MANILA - Asian footballer of the year nominee Nassir Al Shamrani is set to be banned for eight matches spitting and head-butting, sources said Sunday, hours before the award is handed out in Manila.
Sources at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards confirmed reports in Arabic media of the hefty punishment for the Al Hilal striker, over an incident at the AFC Champions League final.
The ban, which will apply to Champions League matches, will not be made public until Saudi Arabian football authorities are formally notified, they said.
Video footage of this month's Champions League final second leg in Riyadh shows Al Shamrani, 31, spitting at Western Sydney Wanderers' Matthew Spiranovic after the Australian club's win, prompting a melee.
Al Shamrani, who scored 10 goals in this year's Champions League, is one of three players shortlisted for the award, along with Al Ain defender Ismail Ahmed and Qatar's Khalfan Ibrahim.
Speaking about the incident on Saturday, Al Shamrani told reporters he didn't think it would cost him the player of the year award.
"Actually I was provoked by the player from Sydney. It's a normal reaction for a player sometimes. He actually used abusive words, that provoked me," he said.
The Wanderers' 1-0 victory was bitterly disputed by Al Hilal, who said they were denied six penalties and called the final a "black spot in the history of Asian football".