Omar Abdulrahman’s cloying comfort zone in Al Ain has, belatedly, became a little less snug.
The feted ‘Amoory’, crown prince of UAE football and indulged to a fault for all his past achievements, received the rarest of things on Tuesday night – a public rebuke.
Grizzled coach Zoran Mamic could not hold his tongue. The AFC had played to the grandstands and given the continent’s golden boy the man-of-the-match honours, despite a fitful display in the 2-0 Champions League play-off victory against Bahraini Premier League champions Malkiya.
“‘Amoory’ is a very-important player, but he did not make a good match,” said the grizzled ex-Croatia international after a display in which his underwhelming prized asset registered pass accuracy of 74.4 per cent and apathetically devolved his creative duties to Egypt’s excellent Hussein El Shahat.
“He made mistakes in many passes, wasted a lot of opportunities. Not good for Asian football.”
Not since being in the care of Cosmin Olaroiu from 2011-13 has such stark honesty been applied to a playmaker who has chosen to coast in his UAE bubble, rather than maximise his preternatural gifts.
‘Amoory’s’ incredible eight man-of-the-match gongs on the way to defeat in the 2016 final were richly deserved, as was his coronation as that year’s AFC Player of the Year.
Since then, both the statistics and the naked eye point to a rare talent stagnating. He was peripheral during much of the UAE’s failed World Cup 2018 qualification, letting now Al Ain team-mate Ahmed Khalil carry the attacking burden.
In the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League, he registered the equal-second-most assists with 10. But an average of one every 192.9 minutes is hardly redolent of his ability.
This is also down on 2013/14 (16) and 2015/16 (12) – much of 2014/15 was a washout with injury. Since yet another summer move to Europe came to nought, this time the exasperated pursuers were Ligue 1’s Nice, he’s coasted through this term.
His ongoing domestic ban for breaking curfew the night before the Gulf Cup final is hotly disputed. What is not in question is the fact suspect preparations were followed by defeat on January 5 to minnows Oman, in which he horrifically missed two clutch penalties.
It has come to a point where ‘Amoory’ can be accused of living on reputation, his adoring public now treated to tantalising flashes of supreme talent.
Mamic’s pointed words must be heeded. A man previously tapped into the gold mine at Dinamo Zagreb knows what he is talking about.
Watch back Abdulrahman’s global breakout performances at the London 2012 Olympics. You’d think, at 26, he’d be breaking new ground at a European club.
It is sad to see what he’s become.
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