The UAE’s dismal build-up to hosting January 2019’s Asian Cup has continued after superstar playmaker Omar Abdulrahman was stretchered off in agony with a serious knee injury and left crying on the substitutes’ bench during Al Hilal’s 1-0 derby win at Al Shabab Riyadh on Saturday night.
Abdulrahman, 27, jarred his right leg in a collision with Romania defender Valerica Garman when stretching for a cross in just the fifth minute. He immediately clutched the affected area in pain, was taken away for medical treatment and substituted soon after for Saudi Arabia midfielder Abdullah Otayf.
This incident in the Saudi Professional League comes less than three months before the Emirates welcomes the continent’s finest for a month-long tournament. Abu Dhabi Sports reported ‘Amoory’ had suffered a medium tear to his knee’s anterior cruciate ligament, a prognosis – if correct – that would place his participation in severe doubt.
‘Amoory’ is the talisman of the Whites side and a winner of the AFC Player of the Year award in 2016. His talents saw a move to Premier League giants Manchester City from Al Ain scuppered only by work-permit issues following a successful trial after the London 2012 Olympics.
Worryingly, he has a history of knee problems. A second surgery on his ACL saw him miss the first half of the 2011/12 season, while 2014/15 was also blighted with similar issues.
This is another concern for embattled UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni to deal with. The ex-AC Milan, Juventus and Japan supremo has won just one of his last eight fixtures.
A superb curled effort was required by ‘Amoory’ this month to secure a 1-1 friendly draw with Honduras in Benfica.
Abdulrahman had grown into a legend in the Garden City, whose academy he joined in 2007.
In a decade with their first team, he scored 62 times and crafted 114 assists during 229 appearances. A total of 11 major honours were won in this period.
A contentious exit to Saudi Arabia giants Hilal – the team of his childhood in Riyadh as a member of the Yemeni diaspora – on a one-year deal was secured in August after months of protracted negotiations. This followed overtures from a number of sides in France, the Netherlands and Spain.
With the Crescent, he’s got one assist and one goal during five SPL starts under ex-Sporting Lisbon and Benfica boss Jorge Jesus.
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