MANILA, PHILIPPINES // Nasser Al Shamrani, Al Hilal striker, has defended his actions in this month’s Asian Champions League final, saying he was provoked by Western Sydney Wanderers defender Matthew Spiranovic.
Al Shamrani, one of three nominees for 2014 Asian player of the year, reacted angrily towards the conclusion of the second leg in Saudi Arabia, when a 0-0 draw ensured the Australians clinched the title by virtue of their 1-0 victory in the initial encounter in Sydney.
Clearly incensed by a succession of referring decisions that went against his side, Al Shamrani first appeared to head-butt at Spiranovic in the final minute, before spitting at his opponent once Western Sydney were crowned champions.
Al Shamrani has yet to be punished by the AFC, although an independent disciplinary committee discussed the issue on Friday. It is understood a decision is still to be made.
Speaking at the nominees’ press conference before Sunday’s player-of-the-year announcement, the Saudi forward said the incident should not affect the possibility of him lifting the award. Favourite for the crown, Al Shamrani runs alongside Ismail Ahmed, the Al Ain defender, and Khalfan Ibrahim, the Qatari winger at Al Sadd.
“I do not expect to lose the chance to win this trophy,” Al Shamrani said. “I was provoked by the Sydney player. It’s a normal reaction; sometimes it happens.
“He used abusive words that were away from sportsmanship, which provoked me. His team won, so he is supposed to be cool and not use abusive words or language. At the end of the day, he represents himself.”
Shamrani would not elaborate on what Spiranovic is alleged to have said, and even departed through a separate exit to avoid journalists. Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, president of the AFC president, defended Al Shamrani’s nomination, saying: “Every player has his days, good ones and bad ones. It’s not just about Nasser, you look at the history of most players around the world and they always have some incidents.”