Al Ain’s next generation are ready to pick up the mantle left behind by mentor Omar Abdulrahman – beginning with Saturday’s Arabian Gulf Super Cup against bitter rivals Al Wahda.
This is the message from Rayan Yaslam. From 2017/18’s drive to a club-first double of the Arabian Gulf League and President’s Cup, the 23-year-old emerged as Amoory’s heir apparent for club and country.
With the 2016 AFC Player of the Year set to spend this season at Saudi Arabia giants Al Hilal, it is up to the likes of Yaslam to take up their idol’s creative responsibilities.
“Omar is a huge technical advantage for any team, he can make the difference on his own,” said the Boss youth product, whose tally of four goals and four assists in the top flight last term represents career-best figures.
“We will surely miss him on and off the pitch, but Al Ain are capable of achieving our ambitions.
“We would like to thank Omar for everything he gave the club and for supporting all youngsters during his time here, and wish him all the best in his new adventure in Saudi Arabia.”
Al Ain and AGL runners-up Wahda’s scrap for glory is set to resumed at Cairo’s 30 June Stadium this weekend.
Veteran UAE centre-back Mohanad Salem should be able to take part after he belatedly agreed a one-year contract extension.
Salem 33, saw his deal lapse after the end of 2017/18. But he was registered as a Boss player with the UAE Football Association on Tuesday.
The Clarets pushed Abu Dhabi rivals Al Ain hard last term, eventually finishing seven-points adrift in second place. They’ve been circumspect in the subsequent transfer market, gaining real quality through prolific Al Ahli Jeddah winger Leonardo and a promising talent in Al Nasr left-back Hussain Abbas.
Allied with iconic forward Ismail Matar’s one-season renewal – the 35-year-old first joined in 2007 – and the return of UAE centre-back Hamdan Al Kamali from a serious knee injury, Reghecampf is expecting an improvement from a strong debut campaign which featured triumphs in the Arabian Gulf Cup and Arabian Gulf Super Cup.
“It is with pleasure that we managed to contract with Leonardo and Hussain Abbas,” said the ex-Romania midfielder. “We wish them success and a quick harmony with the rest of the team.
“The selection of players is a sound decision technically because the contracts make the squad complete and now we have a stronger team than the previous season.
“It was with great pleasure that we renewed the contract of Ismail Matar for an additional season, plus there is also the return of Hamdan Al Kamali from injury.
“We wish provide a season full of successes and continue to achieve trophies. The technical staff and the players will all work as one family, whether we win or lose.”
Great anticipation, in particular, surrounds Leonardo. The Brazilian struck 11 times in 23 run-outs in Saudi Arabia last season, with this following 27 strikes in 41 matches for Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade.
Wahda will defend their Super Cup-crown against Al Ain on Saturday at Cairo’s 30 June Stadium.
Meanwhile, Al Wasl received a boost on Monday when star forward Fabio De Lima began rehabilitation in Dubai after successful surgery.
De Lima, 24, damaged a knee during the early weeks of pre-season training and had been recuperating in his native Brazil.
The Cheetahs begin their 2018/19 AGL campaign against Dibba Al Fujairah on August 30.
An appropriate time to analyse why the UAE Under-23s required a back door to make the 2018 Asian Games’ knockouts is to come.
Now, coach Maciej Skorza must take stock and see what awaits his side after they sneaked through as one of the best third-placed sides in Indonesia. The full line-up will be decided on Monday.
An improved display against rampant China when Group C wound to a close still delivered a second loss from three matches. But at least this one didn’t come with the caveat of a definite end.
Skorza’s predecessors oversaw failures to make the Rio 2016 Olympics and 2018 AFC U-23 Championship.
But whether the Pole can even repeat 2014’s run to the Asian Games’ quarter-finals may require a gentle draw.
The UAE’s latest reversal in the current edition was delivered in remarkable fashion.
Shandong Luneng midfielder Yao Junsheng looked up from near the halfway line on 71 minutes and powerfully lobbed goalkeeper Mohamed Al Shamsi to seal a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory.
A look of astonishment crept across the Wahda man’s face. In reality, he’s now culpable for both reversals at Jalak Harupat Stadium – flimsy fingertips helped Syria to an opening 1-0 triumph last Tuesday.
The Junior Whites had gained a deserved lead on Sunday through Fujairah winger Mohammed Khalfan’s snapped low finish against qualified opponents, who came in with a goal difference of +9. All well and good.
Sharjah’s Majed Surour and Al Jazira’s Mohamed Al Attas at that stage were winning the midfield battle. On the flank, Khalfan was a threat in behind.
The prospect of a first eliminations in the pools since 2006 seemed reassuringly distant.
This warm feeling would be vanquished close to half-time. Beijing Guoan left winger Wei Shihao would cut inside onto his favoured right boot and arrow a powerful effort past the helpless Al Shamsi.
Even better was to come through Junsheng.
Encouragement in defeat, then. But defeat, all the same.