Dest leaves Ajax camp in Qatar amid Iran ten­sions

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS FRIDAY - By Ju­lian Cardillo

Amer­i­can full­back Sergiño Dest has left AFC Ajax’s win­ter train­ing camp in Qatar amid po­lit­i­cal ten­sions be­tween the U.S. and Iran.

Dest, 19, flew back to the Nether­lands on Wed­nes­day af­ter telling his club he did not feel safe on the trip.

“Sergiño Dest has asked if he could leave Ajax’s train­ing camp in Qatar,” the club said in a state­ment on its web­site. “He didn’t feel com­fort­able. Ajax un­der­stands his re­quest and has re­sponded to it.”

Dest will train with Ajax’s re­serves and re­join the team in Am­s­ter­dam in a few days.

His de­par­ture from Ajax’s camp comes on the heels of a sim­i­lar de­ci­sion by the U.S. men’s na­tional team. The U.S. was sched­uled to visit Qatar as part of its an­nual Jan­uary train­ing camp this month but has opted to stay state­side and prac­tice in Braden­ton fol­low­ing un­rest in the Mid­dle East.

An Amer­i­can drone strike killed Ira­nian gen­eral Qasem Soleimani in Bagh­dad on Jan. 3. Late Tues­day night, Iran launched 15 bal­lis­tic mis­siles at two mil­i­tary bases hous­ing U.S. troops in Iraq.

Dest is not on the U.S.’s 25-man ros­ter for the camp, which is run­ning from Jan. 5-25 and cul­mi­nates in Los An­ge­les on Feb. 1 with a friendly against Costa Rica.

Ajax, which cur­rently sits first in the Dutch Ere­di­visie, is sched­uled to re­main in Qatar for a pair of friendlies in Al Wakrah. They were sched­uled to play against Bel­gian clubs Eu­pen on Thurs­day, then will face Club Brugge on Satur­day. The Am­s­ter­dam-based side re­turns to league ac­tion Jan. 19 when it hosts Sparta Rot­ter­dam.

Dest has made 24 ap­pear­ances across all com­pe­ti­tions for Ajax this sea­son, con­tribut­ing two goals and five as­sists. Dest was born in Hol­land, but has three caps for the U.S. men’s na­tional team and made his de­but for the team in Septem­ber. Dest’s fa­ther was a U.S. ser­vice­man.

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