It was here on August 29, 2007, that Syria left-back Wael Ayan saw his first red card. That was in the final of the last Nehru Cup against India.
Exactly two years to the day when Syria line-up against the hosts in the ONGC 14th Nehru Cup, Ayan will be serving another suspension – that of a customary one-match ban following his second booking of the tournament.
Ayan, 24, was booked in the 90th minute of their 1-0 win against Lebanon on Thursday.
“Why do I always end up seeing a card here? And here you are, asking about my history of cards,” he said, sounding somewhat bemused. Since the Nehru Cup and in the last two seasons of the Syrian league Ayan said he wasn’t expelled. He claimed to have been booked five times in that period.
“Agreed that I am an aggressive player, but my aggression is for the ball, not for a player,” he said.
Fajer Ebrahim, the Syria national coach, said: “It’s been five years that he (Ayan) is with the national team. He is a very calm boy. When it comes to the game, all he wants is a win, but only by fair means.”
Asked about Ayan’s cards this time, an evasive Ebrahim said: “Maybe the situation made it unavoidable. Maybe it was bad referring.”
“I’ve got an extra day’s rest,” Ayan said. In 2007, the Syrian was shown the red card for hitting India wingback Surkumar Singh in the groin. “I did not intend to hit anybody, it was just on the spur of the moment. But these yellow cards, I truly didn’t deserve.
“Perhaps, I am unlucky here,” Ayan though said that he is all keyed up for Monday’s final. “India are a very easy team. We will win the title, don’t worry,” he said with a wink.