Bahrain is gearing up for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and hoping success on the field can heal the divided nation after months of bloody political unrest.

But as the team trains this week in Dubai, the fallout from Shiite-led protests calling for greater rights from Sunni rulers is hard to ignore. Several Shiite players who took part in the protests and were later detained. They have not been included in the national squad.

Bahrain coach Peter Taylor says the protests and violent government crackdown have not impeded preparations for the opening match on Sept. 2 against Qatar. Although several players are banned from playing for their local clubs, Taylor said he hasn't ruled out eventually including them on the national team.