National football team's head coach Darren Stewart has said it was unfortunate that Captain Ali Ashfaq (Dhangadey) is on injury when the team is gearing up for a match with Palestine in the Asian Cup qualifiers.
In a news conference at Football Association of Maldives (FAM) House on Tuesday, the Australian coach said FAM’s president Bassam Adeel Jaleel had also commented on Ashfaq’s injury, and that Ashfaq might not be able to pay.
“We expect Ashfaq to return after recovering within the next two to three months. A lot of work has to be done to fill Ashfaq’s absence. He is an important player, and I am closely monitoring his condition,” said Mr Stewart.
Reports indicate that Ashfaq injured his knee while playing in Malaysian team PDRM.
Maldives has been placed in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers, alongside Oman, Palestine and Bhutan.
Group D matches to be played by Maldives:
March 28: Maldives - Palestine
June 13: Maldives - Bhutan
September 5: Maldives - Oman
October 10: Maldives - Oman
November 14: Maldives - Palestine
March 27, 2018: Maldives – Bhutan
While 24 teams are competing, teams that win first and second place in each group stage will go to the finals to join the other twelve teams that have already advanced in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).