SYDNEY - The chances of Iraqi midfielder Ali Abbas playing in next year's Asian Cup look over after he suffered a suspected serious knee injury in Australia's A-League this weekend.
Abbas, 28, who was recalled to the Iraqi national squad recently seven years after defecting to Australia, is expected to miss the rest of the A-League season after a heavy tackle in the opening minutes of Sydney FC's derby against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.
"The news on Ali Abbas is terrible. It looks like ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligament) injury," Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold said.
"I haven't seen it (the challenge) on TV, so I would rather not comment but I was close to it and it looked terrible.
"Ali is devastated. He got smashed twice in two minutes and no yellow card." The injury followed a heavy challenge from Western Sydney's Italian midfielder Iacopo La Rocca.
If the diagnosis is proved correct after scans, Abbas will miss the Asian Cup in Australia which begins in January.
Abbas was a member of the Iraq team that won the Asian Cup in 2007.
He fled his war-torn homeland after playing an under-23s international against Australia north of Sydney in 2007, and was later granted asylum to stay in the country.
"It would be great to play in Australia for Iraq and great to play in front of the Sydney FC fans in the Asian Cup, if I'm selected," Abbas said at the time of his call-up to the Iraqi squad in September.