Words by Hamoudi Fayad
What a year this man has had, and the only part missing from his season was a large goalscoring haul. A leader for club and country at such a young age (24), taking both to the latter stages of all the competitions they participated in (Asian Cup, U.A.E President’s Cup, Asian Champions League).
Both Mabkhout and Khalil worked amazingly well together, especially at the Asian Cup where they tormented the likes of Iraq and Qatar with their intelligent movement and rapid feet.
Already bound by news that Watford and former Al-Ahli Dubai manager Quique Flores is interested in his former striker, it will soon be a matter of when and not if Khalil plies his trade abroad permanently; the first ever Emirati to have done so if the interest materializes.
With the professionalism on show in Asia, Khalil is no doubt the model Emirati to take the torch and lead the way into Europe. However Khalil went on himself to deny any possible move stating he’s “at the best club in Asia”.
What has really improved in Khalil’s skillset over the year is his ability to take free kicks. It’s true that he has sported a Cristiano Ronaldo-like stance since the age of 16 when taking one, but he has really gotten the hang of taking dangerous free-kicks at almost every attempt.
Recent successes have been the absolute screamer against Saudi Arabia and just a few days ago, the winner against Dubai rivals Al-Wasl.
It’s ironic that Khalil’s 2015 was his best ever, as 2014 may have been his worst ever after he failed to live up to the hype, having a disastrous year with both national team and club. Khalil won’t be looking back now, for sure.
Highlight of the Year: AFC Player of the Year
Although it is Khalil’s sacrifice that earned him his spot as one of Asia’s best players – the best according to the AFC Player of the Year Award.
Not much of a goalscorer like Ali Mabkhout anymore and neither is he a fuzzy-haired maestro akin to Amoory, Khalil still stands tall because of the immense rise across 8 years of playing in the region.