2015 AFC Player of the Year Ahmed Khalil is more concerned about Al Ahli’s recent travails than whether he starts for the Arabian Gulf League-title challengers.
Khalil, 24, has begun only four games in the top-flight this term after the summer arrivals of fellow strikers Lima and €17 million (Dh81m) club-record buy Moussa Sow further restricted his opportunities.
The UAE star was a substitute again last weekend, as the 2013-14 champions suffered a damaging 2-1 loss at Bani Yas. When asked about how frustrating the situation was ahead of Saturday night’s trip to lowly Al Shaab, he unselfishly focused on the wider picture rather than personal gains.
“Yes [it is frustrating],” he replied. “But it is the coach who decides who starts and is ready for the game. The problem now is we have to win. It is not about who starts and who is on the substitutes’ bench.
“The problem is we have to win. We have to see what happens for the next round. Every game is important now. We have to continue. We have to get three points and fight.
“We have to see what are the problems, because we lost two games now. This is not a big problem, but a problem. We have to get back to winning games, like before. Inshallah, that happens.”
The setback in the capital was the Red Knights’ second in three AGL matches. Boss Cosmin Olaroiu believed he must ward against complacency to stop this run.
He said: “To meet Al Shaab will be more difficult than playing in front of Bani Yas and (leaders) Al Ain (who beat them 3-0). “At this stage, we must combine forces and in my view it will not be an easy match.
“I followed their games. We must understand they will be fighting inside their stadium, and certainly we must not look for their negative results in the past.
“We have a number of examples of clubs who did not win, but have shown great strength. I will try to find the appropriate solutions in dealing with this.”
Ahli look set for a neck-and-neck battle with champions Al Ain to lift the title. The Boss beat Emirates Club 1-0 on Friday, but Khalil did not want to get distracted by their results.
He said: “For me, I do not care about Al Ain. I care about my team. “It is important for my team to continue and win again.”