Al-Hilal’s Omar Abdulrahman will ‘light up’ Saudi Pro League says former colleague

Omar Abdulrahman has joined the League champions Al-Hilal on a season-long loan deal costing $17 million. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Al-Hilal’s Omar Abdulrahman will ‘light up’ Saudi Pro League says former colleague

  • Abdulrahman joined the League champions Al-Hilal on a season-long loan deal costing $17 million

LONDON: Al-Hilal have signed a “freak” of a player in Omar Abdulrahman, one who will light up the Saudi Pro League this season, according to a former colleague who does wonder though if the time would have been right for the UAE playmaker to transfer his talent to Europe.
Abdulrahman joined the League champions Al-Hilal on a season-long loan deal costing $17 million, the second highest loan fee ever paid for a player. The move means Abdulraham will play in Riyadh, the city of his birth, and show he is comfortable doing it outside the comfort zone of Al-Ain, where he has spent the past 10 years. He is in line to make his debut in the Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad in London on Saturday.
“The kid is a freak, he is an unbelievable talent,” said Liam Weeks, the English performance analyst who worked with the 26-year-old at Al-Ain. “His passing ability, his vision, his execution is world class. He’s got the flair, he can see a picture and bring others into the game that no other players sees.”
Abdulraham is the most talented player in the Middle East and was named the Asian Player of the Year in 2016. He has been coveted by clubs in England, France and Germany, but he has always resisted and stayed put in his adopted home of Al-Ain. Weeks feels he has the ability to shine in one of the top leagues and should have used this opportunity to export his talent.
“I’m really disappointed he’s not gone to Europe,” Weeks said. “I thought it was a perfect opportunity to go to Europe and test himself against the very best, whether in Spain, in Holland, in Germany or in the UK, a better league, a more physical league to see if he can do it. When I go home (to England) people know who Abdulrahman is. They’ve seen videos of him and he’s an iconic because of his hair and his style. People often say, ‘How is the kid with the fuzzy hair doing?’ They mean Omar. He has a lot of fans around the world.”
There have been claims that Abdulrahman enjoys being a big fish in a small pond and that he is so well financially rewarded by Al-Ain that he saw little point moving elsewhere.
“He has a lot that he owes the UAE, Al-Ain and Sheikh Hazza (bin Zayed),” said Weeks. “Sheikh Hazza brought him to the UAE from Yemen, brought his entire family over and gave them citizenship. He’s got two brothers who play for Al-Ain and that maybe has something to do with why he has stayed.”
Abdulrahman, 26, was out of contract this summer and although he signed a new deal at Al-Ain, Weeks feels the fact he was banned for breaking a curfew in the Gulf Cup while on UAE duty may have played a part in his decision to end, albeit temporarily, his unbroken stint in the UAE Pro League and try his luck in the Saudi Pro League.
“He’s got a bit of bad press in the UAE after the Gulf Cup, so maybe that was part of the decision,” said Weeks.
Al-Ain’s loss is certainly Al-Hilal’s gain and Weeks’ mouth waters of the prospect of Abdulrahman lining up in a side already packed with talent.
“He will do very well there,” Weeks said. “Al-Hilal are the powerhouses in Saudi football. They have (Omar) Khribin, (Carlos) Eduardo and their runs with Abdulrahman providing the ammunition is going to be an exciting prospect.”
Weeks worked closely with Abdulrahman at Al-Ain, passing on key stats about his performances in training and in games and found him a very grounded individual.
“He’s a very down-to-earth person,” Weeks said. “He’s very focussed on his football, very polite, he looks after himself. He’ll always greet you with a warm welcome.”
While his talent is not in question, Weeks is warning supporters not to expect too much, too soon from the left-footed magician as he has been struggling with injury.
“I think fitness and injury wise there are concerns,” said Weeks. “His last game was the beginning of May. He’s not been training properly with Al-Ain or the national team and has had three months of work with just a fitness instructor in the gym. Hopefully they don’t rush him into things and give him a pre-season before he starts.”


Five memorable India vs, Pakistan clashes

Updated 18 September 2018
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Five memorable India vs, Pakistan clashes

  • Arch-rivals to meet in Dubai on Wednesday.
  • Cricket's biggest rivalry is one of the biggest in sport.

LONDON: Sparks generally fly when India take on Pakistan at cricket, and Wednesday’s Asia Cup clash in Dubai will be an emotionally charged fixture as always.

Here are five of the most memorable clashes between the two cricketing powerhouses.

DARK DAY

On the same day the teams were playing a one-day match at Sialkot in Pakistan on Oct. 31, 1984, the Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her bodyguards in New Delhi.
Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri were piling on runs for India when the news came. Pakistan’s president Zia ul Haq ordered the match stopped, and India’s captain Sunil Gavaskar wanted the same.
“Obviously, we weren’t in any frame of mind to carry on and, sure enough, the ODI had to be abandoned,” Vengsarkar told India’s Telegraph later.
“Thirty years have gone by, but it’s a day one can’t forget,” he said.

IMRAN KHAN’S CLASH

Imran Khan’s best bowling figures of six for 14 were in a one-day international against India March 22, 1985, but for the swashbuckling Pakistan fast bowler it was all in vain.
Khan ripped apart the Indian batting line-up in Sharjah in the UAE to send the opposition packing for 125. But Pakistan’s own batting imploded, skittled for just 87.
Khan — now Pakistani prime minister — was still man of the match, however.

SIX WINS IT

The match that will always evoke the bitterest memories for India, and the sweetest ones for Pakistan, was on April 18, 1986, again an ODI in Sharjah.
With Pakistan needing four off the last ball to win, India’s Chetan Sharma ran in and bowled a full toss — which Javed Miandad swatted for six.
Miandad, who was presented with a golden sword, became a national hero, while Sharma faced barbs and insults on his return home.

TENDULKAR’S TEARS

A century from Sachin Tendulkar, India’s most celebrated batsman, was usually a recipe for success in the 1990s and 2000s but not in the 1999 Test match against Pakistan in Chennai.
Chasing 271 for victory, Tendulkar brought India close with a sparkling 136, but Pakistani off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq got him out and India eventually lost by 12 runs.
A sporting Indian home crowd gave the Wasim Akram-led side a standing ovation, but Tendulkar was heartbroken.
Weeping in the dressing room, according to then-coach Anshuman Gaekwad, the “little master” refused to come out of the dressing room to receive his man-of-the-match award.

MISBAH’S MISHIT

An India-Pakistan final in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup and a sell-out crowd in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2007 was a perfect setting for cricket’s newest format.
Pakistan’s Misbah ul-Haq was on the cusp of taking his team to a memorable win with his gritty batting in a chase of 158.
But then came a moment of madness as Misbah tried to play an audacious paddle shot to seal victory against paceman Joginder Sharma in the final over.
The ball went high into the waiting hands of Shanthakumaran Sreesanth. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s India celebrated like never before as Misbah missed a chance of a lifetime.