Togo's star attraction, Emmanuel Adebayor, who is embroiled in a payment row with the Togolese federation, has been left out of the national side for the friendly against Oman to be played in Sohar on December 29.
Togo's head coach Didier Six dropped the 28 year old Tottenham striker when he announced the Oman-bound 23-member squad on Thursday.
The friendly, to be played at the Sohar Sports Complex, is significant for both teams as they prepare for marquee regional competitions in January 2013. Oman is preparing for its Bahrain trip from January 5-18 in pursuit of reclaiming the Gulf Cup, while Togo will feature in the African Cup of Nations to be played in South Africa from January 19 to February 10.
The Oman-Togo friendly kicks off at 7.30pm.
Oman's coach Paul Le Guen is looking ahead to the Togo match as his last warm-up game ahead of the Gulf Cup campaign.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Le Guen said, “The match against Togo is crucial as it is our final warm-up match. Togo is a strong side and we hope to gain maximum benefit [from this match]. A positive result will give my players a boost ahead of the Gulf Cup.”
Last week, Oman defeated African team Benin 2-0 in a friendly in Sur. Le Guen fielded a second-string side in that outing. The Togo friendly will feature Oman's core team though.
Le Guen said he is expecting strong competition from Togo, which played in the 2006 World Cup in Germany and is currently ranked 71st. Oman is 95th in the FIFA ranking.
Oman won the Gulf Cup in 2009 in Muscat when it hosted the event.
Earlier this month, Adebayor claimed he will play for his country only if the Togolese federation releases 'unpaid bonuses' that are allegedly still due to him.
National team coach Six had vowed to persuade the former Arsenal player, who otherwise captains the national team, to return. But the coach hasn't met with any success so far, and instead had to drop him from the team for the Oman game.
He has been named as a standby though, giving the mercurial player a window to come on board in case he changes his mind.
Adebayor suffered a minor hamstring injury in Tottenham's win against Swansea in the Premier League on December 16.
The Togolese federation stated on its official website, "Adebayor had already announced he wouldn't participate, and [he suffered an] injury last weekend in the Premier League."
Six is now hoping to persuade the player to at least play in the African Cup of Nations.
"It's clear that we will need Adebayor, but don't forget we qualified without him from one of the playoff matches," Six was quoted as saying in African media reports. "I am doing everything I can to get him to come back to us. He's a world-class player and the Togo national team captain. He is very important to this group. I will use all my strength to get him to change his mind, but he has the last word."
Six's team that will travel to Oman comprises six players who play in the top two leagues in France. Lille striker Kalen Damessi, Nantes forward Serge Gakpe, Marseille defender Senah Mango and Auxerre midfielder Prince Kossi Segbefia play top division football in France.