Asia’s grandest stage finally awaits Omar Abdulrahman.
With it, an incomparable talent preordained to stand alone on the continent can ensure Al Ain become AFC Champions League winners for the second time and fulfil his destiny of being named AFC Asian Player of the Year.
‘Amoory’ – like he has been throughout 2016 – was exemplary amid the chaos during this breathless last-four decider in Doha Tuesday night.
A perfect moment was witnessed as the 25-year-old celebrated his second-half nerve settler in front of the besotted travelling Boss support, who will long speak of the day they saw their idol write another chapter in the history books of the UAE’s most-decorated club.
This has been his year so far and if he can conjure a path past FC Seoul or Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in next month’s two-legged finals, no-one could deny him a repeat of countryman Ahmed Khalil’s historic coronation in 2015 as Asia’s finest player.
Such acclaim was predicted after a breakthrough 2009/10 campaign as a callow teenager and when he came to the world’s – and Manchester City’s – attention at the London 2012 Olympics.
Indeed, the usurping by fellow hotly-tipped talent Khalil went against the previously-written script.
Momentum-sapping injuries along the way have not helped, but an incredible eighth man-of-the-match award in 12 ACL games tells you everything you need to know about his stellar form in this edition.
The freewheeling playmaker was in perpetual motion at Doha’s disappointingly-attended Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.
He expertly and stylishly weaved his way across a pitch shared with the likes of ex-Barcelona centre midfielder Seydou Keita, belying the curveball of being deployed as the ‘false nine’ and last week’s travails on UAE duty in Saudi Arabia.
His character and mental fortitude had been, rightly, questioned after flopping so badly in the country of his birth.
There was to be no chance of repeat accusations.
He stood tall against a second-half buffering from the likes of pumped up Jaish substitute Mohammad Mothnani and a stunning through ball – of the kind few can conceive – sent exasperating winger Danilo Asprilla clear for one of two glaring chances spurned by him during the opening period.
El Jaish coach Sabri Lamouchi – a fine judge of talent after a career spent with Internazionale, Parma and France – labelled him “absolutely the best player in Asia” after September’s opener in which Abdulrahman supplied two assists and a perfect free-kick.
A glory-filled week in November would make such an impressive claim indisputable.
Know more about Sport360 Application