Al-Hilal still hopeful Omar Abdulrahman will play for the club again despite ACL injury

Omar Abdulrahman, one of the biggest names in Asian football, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on Oct. 20. (Twitter: @AlHilal_EN)
Updated 05 November 2018
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Al-Hilal still hopeful Omar Abdulrahman will play for the club again despite ACL injury

  • Al-Hilal defeated Al-Qadisiya 2-0 on Friday to make it seven wins out of seven in the Saudi Pro League
  • Abdulrahman, one of the biggest names in Asian football, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on Oct. 20

RIYADH: Al-Hilal have refused to rule out extending Omar Abdulrahman’s loan deal from Al-Ain after their star summer signing was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Al-Hilal defeated Al-Qadisiya 2-0 on Friday to make it seven wins out of seven in the Saudi Pro League. But that doubtless did little to make it any easier for the Riyadh giants to face up to the prospect of never fielding the UAE playmaker ever again — the loan deal set for only one year.
Abdulrahman, one of the biggest names in Asian football, tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on Oct. 20 in a 1-0 win over Al-Shabab in a major blow to both club and country.
With Al-Hilal paying a reported $17 million to Al-Ain for 12 months of the player’s services — the second most expensive loan signing in football history — there are rumors that they will seek to extend the deal to ensure that the playmaker can return to action at the club.
 “It is early to say what will happen,” an Al-Hilal official told Arab News. “It would be disappointing for our fans, but also for fans of all clubs in Saudi Arabia and the league too, if Omar Abdulrahman does not play here again but the focus at the moment is just making sure that he makes a full recovery.”
From the moment he fell to the ground it was feared “Amoory” was going to miss next year’s Asian Cup, taking place in the UAE in January. 
“The initial concern was from the UAE national team about whether ‘Amoory’ would play in the Asian Cup but we soon knew that there was more serious news for us,” the Al-Hilal official said.
 Earlier this week, Nick Worth, a former medical services director at UAE giant Al-Jazira told Arab News that fans back home could expect the player, who went under the knife in Barcelona on Wednesday, to make a full recovery.
That may not be much comfort to supporters in Riyadh who had been thrilled by Abdulrahman’s early appearances in Saudi Arabia. Even if the player does return to previous levels that saw him offered a contract by Manchester City in 2012 and subsequently linked to a host of European giants, it is likely that it will be too late for him to don the famous blue shirt in a meaningful fixture again before the loan deal expires.
The playmaker will also miss the 2019 AFC Champions League group stage or second round if Al-Hilal get that far.
“At this stage we accept that he is going to be out for the season.  He is receiving the best medical care and should make a full recovery but even should that happen before the season ends, he still would not have time to become fit enough to play any part. Already there are discussions on bringing in a replacement in the transfer window in January.
While Al-Hilal have made a perfect start — win number seven propelled the team to the top of the table for the first time this season above early pacesetters Al-Nassr — the removal of Abdulrahman’s creativity could become an issue, especially with Saudi Arabian international playmaker Nawaf Al-Abed also absent all season with long-standing injury issues.
But encouragingly for coach Jorge Jesus, appointed to the job in June, other players have stepped into the breach. Athletic midfielder Mohammed Kanoo has produced a string of impressive performances and contributed four goals from midfield.
French striker Bafetimbi Gomis has starred since his big-money move from Galatasaray. The backline has stayed solid and without the injury to Asia’s most talented player, it would have been the perfect start to the season.
“I want to thank the fans of Al-Hilal who have given me so much support since I got my injury,” Abdulrahman said on Wednesday.
“It means a lot and I also want to say thank you to my team-mates who keep winning in my absence.”


Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

Updated 23 January 2019
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Underdogs with bite and sloppy South Korea: What we learned from the Asian Cup second round

  • Can the mighty minnows continue impressive run in the UAE?
  • Or will the big guns start to fire in quarterfinals?

LONDON: Asia’s biggest sporting spectacle has reached its quarterfinal stage — and it’s time for teams to find their A-game. While there are few surprises in the last-eight lineup, the form of some of the big-name sides has been less than impressive. Here we deliver our verdict on the second round.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT — Saudi Arabia’s attack

The Green Falcons started the tournament at top speed. They came in as one of the cup favorites and in their opening two matches illustrated why. A 4-0 thrashing of North Korea was backed up with a relatively simple 2-0 victory over Lebanon. Understandably, that raised hopes that Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men could go all the way in the UAE. Alas, it was not to be as a 2-0 defeat to Qatar in their last group clash left them with a tricky tie against Japan. For all their efforts Saudi Arabia were unable to find the back of the net, the lack of firepower upfront costing Pizzi’s team yet again.



BIGGEST SHOCK — South Korean sloppiness

Boosted by the arrival of Tottenham star Son Heung-Min, South Korea were rightly declared the pre-tournament favorites. They had firepower up front, intelligence and creativity in midfield, and experience at the back. In the four matches in the UAE so far, however, they have looked anything but potential champions. They labored to beat Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and China in the group stage before almost being shocked by part-timers Bahrain in the second round. South Korea now face Qatar in the last eight and, as Son said after their extra-time win over Bahrain, they need to significantly improve if they are to avoid a shock exit before the semis.



UNDER PRESSURE — Alberto Zaccheroni and the UAE



The Whites owe their place in the last eight to luck more than skill. In some ways that is not a surprise — the hosts came into the tournament without their talisman, the injured Omar Abdulrahman, and on the back of a patchy run of form. But, still, the performances on home soil have been underwhelming to say the least. That was summed up with their extra-time win over Kyrgyzstan, who were playing in their first Asian Cup. It was a far-from-convincing performance and Central Asians were unlucky not to beat Zaccheroni’s side. The UAE will have to deliver their best performance for some time if they are to progress further. Their opponents, Australia, have also performed poorly, which may offer them some encouragement.



BEST HIGHLIGHT — The mighty minnows

The big guns have not had it all their own way. That may annoy their fans, but it does show that Asian football is improving. Only a few years ago the idea that Kyrgyzstan, Bahrain and Jordan would look the equals of Australia and Co. would have seemed fanciful. But in the past two weeks the standard shown by the so-called lesser lights has been impressive — and great to watch. Last summer five Asian teams appeared at the World Cup for the first time and it was hoped that showing would act as a springboard for further progress across the continent. On the evidence of the action in the UAE that wish could be coming true.

 

PREDICTIONS