Al Ain have drawn a huge sigh of relief as their star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman is eligible to take the field Tuesday night in their crucial AFC Champions League play-off clash against Bahrain’s Malkiya.
Amoory is currently serving a four-match domestic ban imposed by the UAE FA after leaving the national team’s hotel the night before the Arabian Gulf Cup final loss to Oman in December.
It’s a second stroke of good fortune for the Boss who are lucky to even be in the qualifying stages for the ACL after finishing outside the qualification spots in the 2016/17 Arabian Gulf League.
But since the new merger club, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, failed to get an AFC license in time, Al Ain were given their spot. Clubs need to be in existence for at least two years to qualify for the ACL.
The Boss have previous success in the tournament being the UAE’s only ACL champs, winning the very first final back in 2002/03 when they edged out BEC Tero from Bangkok 2–1 on aggregate.
Malkiya, based in Riffa, won their first-ever Bahraini title last season and currently sit third on the table.
“The opposing team includes young players and provides good levels so we have to show our real strength,” said Al Ain coach, Croatian Zoran Mamic.
“If we want to qualify we have to show the spirit and fight against the opponent until we manage to secure our place in Group D.”
It’s all or nothing on the night as the play-off is decided over just one leg, with extra-time and penalties if necessary, with the winner going through to the ACL Group stages.
“My confidence in Al Ain players and their high potential is very great” continued Mamic, “but such confrontations require special focus because there is no room for compensation and the experience of players is very important.”
Al Ain mid-fielder Hussein Al-Shahat is determined to perform well as the match represents his first appearance in the continental tournament.
“We respect the aspirations of the opposing team and we will deal with the high concentration throughout the game,” he said.
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