Words by Martin Lowe
We’ve reached top spot in our countdown of 2015’s Top 100 performers in Asia, and it’ll come as no surprise to any of you to find that Emirati playmaker Omar Abdulrahman has clinched our top spot.
The mercurial talent who came into 2015 on a flurry of hype, backed up the pretence with a fantastic man of the tournament display in January’s Asian Cup, that once again catapulted Amoory ever further onto the worldwide stage.
Of course he’s gained such rave reviews before, really ever since he broke into the Al Ain first team set up. Through notable performances in the previous World Cup qualifying stages and at the London Olympics in 2012, Abdulrahman’s influence though was expected to be felt most pertinently in Australia, and oh how he didn’t disappoint.
UAE as a team, were the breakthrough side in Australia, clinching the Bronze medal, whilst dispelling the high hopes of pre-tournament rated duo Qatar and Japan. Their ability to score goals, through strike duo Ahmed Khalil and Ahmed Mabkhout stood out, but their supply line engineered by Abdulrahman in behind was the true delight on show.
From the first game against Qatar, Abdulrahman oozed class, his first touch deadly, his tricks creative and his vision inspiring. He was suppressed to only sporadic moments of joy in the opener (after being deployed wide) but still had a hand in all three of the Emirati goals.
As comes with the territory, envious criticism came his way, and it did come across more than a little bitter. Amoory is often described as lazy, however their are few playmakers of his visionary ilk that’ll track back regularly. The impact he has on the side leads you to think such endeavour could in fact depress his output.
His output is hardly stingy of course, months later, fresh off the back of acquiring countless new admirers in Australia, Abdulrahman was back to his creative best, supplying 6 of UAE’s 10 against a poor Malaysia side. While the match is remembered for the away sides crumble, a look back is well worth it for the range of assists effortlessly arranged by the quite superb Abdulrahman.
That remains Abdulrahman’s appeal and consequently leaves many frustrated. His immense ease as he struts around domestic football (he guided Al Ain back to the AGL title in the summer) often makes it look too easy for him. Surely he can do better? Surely he will move to Europe?
Sadly, (if you think it’s a bad thing anyway) Abdulrahman looks highly unlikely to move to Europe, after snubbing countless offers over the years, only to sign a new bumper contract renewal in February that makes him the highest paid Middle Eastern footballer, whilst tying him to Al Ain for another three years.
While he still has time on his side, at the age of 24, musings from the player himself suggest we shouldn’t hold our breath on a move abroad. Given the success and continual improvement on the international scene however, he remains the best Asian player still playing on the continent, and by some clear distance.
Highlight of the Year; Panenka against Japan at the Asian Cup
UAE’s quarter final encounter with tournament favourites Japan wasn’t typical of what had came before, as the match became one sided in terms of possession, with the Emiratis attempting to hit the Japanese on the break.
Abdulrahman may have impressed in parts across the 120 minutes, but his crowning glory was in the shootout. Cool, genius, cocky; all words to describe his beautiful dink down the centre, a point that illustrated, as Amoory regularly does that the pressure was off. A deciding factor that eventually swung the shootout in favour of the Emiratis.