'Serious problems' between Al-Ahli star striker Omar Al-Somah and coach Sergiy Rebrov

'Serious problems' between Al-Ahli star striker Omar Al-Somah and coach Sergiy Rebrov
Omar Al-Somah has scored 11 league goals for Al-Ahli this season, but that didn't prevent him from being substituted in the biggest game of the season. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2018

'Serious problems' between Al-Ahli star striker Omar Al-Somah and coach Sergiy Rebrov

'Serious problems' between Al-Ahli star striker Omar Al-Somah and coach Sergiy Rebrov
  • Top-scorer hooked after 70 minutes of big game with Al-Hilal
  • Syrian forward reacts badly to the decision while the crowd boo

JEDDAH: The Al-Ahli future of Omar Al-Somah is in doubt after he reacted angrily to being substituted in the big clash with Al-Hilal on Saturday night.
With the game deadlocked, Al-Ahli coach Sergiy Rebrov decided to withdraw his star striker with 20 minutes remaining and replace him with Saudi Arabia international Muhannad Assiri. The Syrian international looked toward his boss in disbelief when his number was held up and mouthed “Why?.” He reluctantly left the field of play, pointing to his head to make his bemusement with Rebrov’s decision clear, walked past his manager without acknowledging him and went straight down the tunnel. The decision by Rebrov was booed by the majority of the 35,000 crowd.

The game finished goalless and Rebrov failed to appear at the post-match press conference to discuss the incident, while the Syrian forward left the stadium in a private car, rather than on the team bus.
Al-Ahli legend Talal Al-Meshal, who represented the club for a decade and won 60 caps for Saudi Arabia between 1998 and 2006, feels there is an issue between Al-Somah and Rebrov.
“Al-Somah is a well-mannered guy,” Al-Meshal told Saudi Arabia’s UFM Radio. “I believe his reaction there indicates serious problems with the coach, or the club even. The coach was overtly conservative against Al-Hilal. He doesn’t seem to understand the players’ roles and capabilities well.”
The incident on Saturday night is the latest episode in a tense relationship between the pair. The issues started when Rebrov opted to leave Al-Somah out of the team’s roster for the AFC Champions League owing to injury. The Syrian returned to full fitness halfway through the group stage, meaning he could have played in the remaining three group games and been available for the two-legged round of 16 game.
Matters escalated last month when Rebrov withdrew his No. 9 half an hour into the second half of the league game against Al-Raed. Al-Ahli were 3-0 up at the time and Al-Somah appeared disappointed at being denied the chance to increase his goal tally. He has finished as top scorer in the Saudi Pro League for the past three seasons and has 11 this season, two behind league top-scorer Ronnie Fernandez of Al-Fayha.
After the Al-Raed match, Al-Somah said there are “things to be clarified at the end of the season,” fueling speculation that his stay at the club will not extend beyond the summer. He then took to Twitter days later to announce he was remaining at Al-Ahli.
Al-Somah is contracted to the club until 2020 while Rebrov is out of contract this summer.
The incident was the main talking point from an otherwise uneventful draw that means the league title will be decided on the final day of the season. Al-Hilal are one point clear at the top and host Al-Fateh on Thursday while Al-Ahli welcome Ohod.
“We have a few days to prepare for Thursday’s game, where our fate is now in our own hands and at home,” said Al-Hilal goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi. “If we could replicate our performance from this match, we will get a win against Al-Fateh. There will be pressure on us, playing in front of a home crowd who are fully expecting the title will be a challenge, but I am confident in our ability to make it. We have been top of the table for most of the season, so we have no intention of letting it slip at the end.”