Turmoil in Arabia: Harsh Punishments for Rebels as Mancini’s Authority Prevails

In a stern response to the minor rebellion faced by coach Roberto Mancini during the preparations for the Asia Cup, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation has swiftly addressed the defiance of up to six players who refused to continue with the national team ahead of the continental tournament.

The most severe penalty has been imposed on Nawal Al Aqidi, the starting goalkeeper for Al Nassr in Cristiano Ronaldo’s team, who will be sidelined for five months and fined approximately €74,000. Al Aqidi’s punishment is a direct consequence of his decision to leave the national team camp, stating to the goalkeeper coach, as revealed by Mancini, “I don’t want to stay if I’m not playing as a starter.”

Al Nassr has also faced sanctions for other players involved in the rebellion. Young forward Mohammed Maran received a one-month suspension and a €50,000 fine, while Sultan Al Ghannam, the team’s starting right-back, was spared from a playing suspension but fined €50,000.

The remaining four players who defied their national call-up for the Asia Cup and were excluded by Mancini due to their unprofessional behavior have also faced consequences. Salman Al Faraj, the experienced player and former captain of the national team from Al Hilal, has been fined €24,000. Al Ettifaq players Khalid Al Ghannam and Ali Hazazi have been handed a one-month suspension from playing and a €50,000 fine each.

The stringent measures underscore the determination of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to maintain discipline and uphold the authority of the national team, as they gear up for the Asia Cup amid internal challenges.

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