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Sat 26 Jan 2008 11:30 AM

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Man City fails to secure Nashat Akram

Al Ain player's hopes of being the first Iraqi to play in the English premier league are dashed.

Nashat Akram's hopes of becoming the first Iraqi to play in England's Premier League have been dashed after Manchester City failed to secure a UK work permit for the midfielder.

The club announced on Friday that it had failed in an appeal against the rejection of the permit application, despite manager Sven-Goran Eriksson making a personal appearance at the decisive hearing.

City had agreed to transfer Akram from the Al-Ain club in the UAE and he had impressed the coaching staff during a recent trial at the club.

Eriksson said: "This is a big blow and a great disappointment to us. I have huge sympathy for Nashat. He is a very good footballer with an excellent international pedigree. He has now returned to the Middle East and we will keep in touch with him. He is somebody who we will maintain an interest in for the long term."

Akram was one of the stars of the Iraq side that won the Asian Cup for the first time in July of last year and was also part of the squad that reached the semi-finals of the 2004 Olympic soccer tournament.

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