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Despite Five-Month Suspension, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr Teammate Cleared to Play in AFC Champions League Clash Against Al Ain – Reports

Published 03/03/2024, 8:56 PM EST

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via Reuters

The AFC Champions League action returns for Al Nassr. Following a disappointing draw in the Saudi Pro League against Al Hazm, Luis Castro’s side will play the much-anticipated first leg of the quarterfinal against Al Ain. As preparation for the match continues, Al Nassr is dealt with positive news. A teammate of Cristiano Ronaldo, who earlier received a five-month suspension, is set to play in tonight’s Champions League clash. Meanwhile, there’s also an update on whether CR7 will feature in tonight’s game.

Nawaf Al-Aqidi was under scrutiny following his decision to allegedly refuse to play the Saudi Arabia NT in the recent Asian Cup. Further investigation saw the 23-year-old goalkeeper receive a 5-month suspension from all domestic as well as international activities. However, as per the latest reports, Al-Aqidi is not suspended from the ongoing AFC Champions League. To further support the evidence, his name is even added to the team list by Castro and Co. 

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This is certainly quite a relieving update for the Knights of the Najd. But what about his other teammate, Sultan Al-Ghannam?The 29-year-old right back also received a suspension alongside Al-Aqidi, as well as Al Hilal’s Salman Al-Faraj. So far, there is no update on Al-Ghannam.

However, Al-Aqidi’s addition might likely see Al-Ghannam in the upcoming Champions League clash against the Abu Dhabi side. Their absence from the 26-man roster, led by manager Roberto Mancini, saw the Saudi NT get knocked out by South Korea in the Asian Cup’s RO16, which Qatar later went on to lift by defeating Jordan 1-3 in the finals on February 10. Interestingly, Cristiano Ronaldo had also come in support of his teammates, rallying for Al-Aqidi and Al-Ghannam’s suspensions to be revoked. Speaking of CR7, will he feature in tonight’s fixture? 

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Is Cristiano Ronaldo playing in tonight’s AFC Champions League QF against Al Ain?

Cristiano Ronaldo himself received a suspension from playing for Al Nassr. The Portuguese superstar was handed a one-match ban following a controversial incident involving Al Shabab fans. His absence against Al Hazm proved costly as his team endured a 4-4 draw, dropping two crucial points. However, Ronaldo has now served his ban and is set to travel to the UAE for the quarter-final clash.

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On the other hand, Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has been omitted from the squad to face the Abu Dhabi-based club. Castro has reportedly decided to rest his $38 million signing for this match. While Brozovic’s absence will be felt, it’s a relief for the team that captain Ronaldo is back. The 39-year-old will be eager to demonstrate his goal-scoring prowess and lead his side in dominating the away leg.

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Written by:

Abhishek Mishra

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Abhishek Mishra is a senior Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. His early exposure to playing soccer earned him many accolades at college divisions, making him a sports enthusiast. While closely following daily updates for over a decade, Abhishek is well-versed in European soccer and now the MLS, as well.
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Edited by:

Tushhita Barua