Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

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Al-Hilal fans will finally get to see their new hero Omar Abdulrahman play in the famous blue of the Riyadh giants. (AFP)
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Updated 17 August 2018
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Al-Hilal boss Jorge Jesus reveals Omar Abdulrahman will make debut in Super Cup clash in London

  • New boss Jorge Jesus to give start to new star signing after $17 million move from Al-Ain last week.
  • Al-Hilal coach keen to put on a good show in London and start season with silverware against Al-Ittihad.

LONDON: Jorge Jesus confirmed Omar Abdulrahman will make his Al-Hilal debut in the Saudi Super Cup final against Al-Ittihad on Saturday.
The UAE playmaker joined the Saudi Pro League champions last week in a loan deal from Al-Ain that was worth $17 million, a fee that has only been surpassed once in football history. 
The 26-year-old has been training with his new teammates at English football’s HQ at St. George’s Park this week and traveled down to London on Friday with the rest of the team ahead of the showpiece game at Loftus Road.
Abdulrahman has not played since May, when Al-Ain were dumped out of the AFC Champions League by Lekhwiya, and he was not considered for the Arab Club Champions Club on Sunday, but Jesus said the 2016 Asian Player of the Year is line to make his first appearance for his boyhood club this weekend.
“Omar is training with the team for five or six days,” said Jesus. “Intelligent players like Omar learn fast, so that’s why he will be part of the game.”
There are various subplots to the game in west London, not least the fact that Al-Ittihad coach Ramon Diaz comes up against the club that fired him in February. He won the double in the first season in Riyadh and then choreographed Al-Hilal’s run to the final of the AFC Champions League in his second. Now he goes up against Jesus, the Portuguese tactician who replaced him this summer.
“It’s true Diaz could know the players more and this could influence the match, but they are working with my ideas today and I expect the match to be an excellent game,” said Jesus.
Al-Hilal lost the Super Cup the last time it was held in London, losing to Al-Ahli on penalties in a thriller at Fulham’s Craven Cottage ground. Jesus knows this year’s match could provide a launchpad for the season ahead and broaden the appeal of football in the Kingdom. 
“Everybody knows the importance of this match, because we play outside Saudi Arabia,” he said. “It represents the image of our football. We are happy to be present in London and play the Saudi Super Cup here. The eyes of Europe sees London as the center of football, so we need to create a good image of Saudi football.”

Jorge Jesus is looking to get his reign as Al-Hilal coach off to a winning start at QPR's Loftus Road ground on Saturday. 


Jesus will be without the injured Salman Al-Faraj, Abdullah Otayf and Nawaf Al-Abed while national team full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani will undergo a late fitness test. 
“We are missing some players but that should not reduce the importance of some players we have in the squad,” said Jesus. “We have to find our best combination of players to go to the match with.”
Mohammad Al-Shalhoub will captain the side from midfield following the departure of Osama Hawsawi and knows bragging rights are up for grabs on Saturday between Saudi Arabia’s two most successful clubs who have won the top prize in the Kingdom 23 times between them.
“It’s one match, there is no other chance,” he said. “We will do our best to win the cup. We can start the season well if we win this cup. We will fight hard to win, but Ittihad is doing their hardest to win it, too. We are super motivated to show a good level and start with a Saudi Super Cup victory.”
Al-Hilal labored to a 1-0 win over Al-Shabab on Sunday night and know they will need to be much nearer their best against last season’s King’s Cup winners.
“In the beginning of the season, you can have some difficulties,“ Al-Shalhoub said. “Our first home game in the Arab Cup we showed a good level, but we have to me more ready against Ittihad.”


Esperance Sportive de Tunis told to forget Real Madrid and focus on Al-Ain in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 12 December 2018
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Esperance Sportive de Tunis told to forget Real Madrid and focus on Al-Ain in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tunisian giants face Al-Ain in their quarterfinal
  • In Japan, Esperance were beaten by Asian champions Al-Sadd, a defeat that saw them miss out on the chance of playing Barcelona

ABU DHABI: Esperance Sportive de Tunis have been told they have to learn from their mistakes of 2011 or forget about a dream date with Real Madrid. 

The Tunisian giants face Al-Ain in their quarterfinal with their skipper Khalil Chemmam reminding them not to fall foul of overconfidence as they did when they last played in the FIFA Club World Cup seven years ago. In Japan, Esperance were beaten by Asian champions Al-Sadd, a defeat that saw them miss out on the chance of playing Barcelona in the semifinals.

With a last-four clash against Real Madrid on offer to the winners of Saturday’s match, Chemmam is only too aware of the possibility of history repeating itself. 

“We should concentrate on our quarterfinal first, take each game as it comes, and try not to make the same mistakes we made in 2011,” the Tunisia international said. 

“We have to focus on our initial opponents and do our research beforehand. We must give our all out on the pitch so that we don’t have any regrets this time.”

He added: “Appearing at the Club World Cup might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for some players, so we should be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when we played well but lost. That’s why we have to stay focused and do our best to advance as far as we can in the competition.”

That Esperance are even in the position to take on the most successful club sides in the world has come as a bit of a shock to the defender. Egyptian aces Al-Ahly were strongly fancied to beat them over the two legs of the CAF Champions League final. They lost 3-1 in Alexandria but fashioned a brilliant comeback in the second leg, winning 3-0 to claim the title 4-3 on aggregate. 

But now that they have made it to the UAE they do, Chemmam admitted, have one eye on a clash with Real Madrid. 

“We didn’t really envisage winning the Champions League this season, but we wanted to go as far as possible,” Chemmam said. 

“There wasn’t much pressure on us, and we managed to go on a run and claim the title. And so we’ll try to do the same in the Club World Cup. 

“We won’t set an objective, but everyone’s been dreaming of making it to the final and playing Real Madrid, the European champions.

“I’m so fortunate to be an Esperance player. They’re a big name, not just in Tunisia, but throughout Africa. If I didn’t play here, I might not have had the chance to participate in the Club World Cup in 2011, and now again in 2018. That said, I’ll need to handle the large amount of responsibility placed on my shoulders, and hopefully we’ll record better results at this tournament compared to last time around in Japan.”

If Chemmam and his Esperance side can cause a shock or two over the coming few days, it perhaps would not be too much of a surprise. It is the team’s centenary year and as seen with the CAF Champions League win, luck does seem to be on their side. 

“Winning the Champions League this year was special because it came in the club’s centenary year and against a big team, Al Ahly,” Chemmam said. “Out of all the trophies we’ve won, this one is unique because we not only beat them, but we also played better than them. It was a happy day for Tunisia and for Esperance’s supporters, of course. It was an exceptional tournament for us.”

Of their last-four opponents he added: “It’ll be a tough match.

“Without a doubt … Al-Ain will have a lot of supporters in the stands, and that will give them a boost. However, our fans will be there for us too. They follow us wherever we go, and we expect that to continue at the Club World Cup.”