x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Al Ain’s team spirit is behind good form

The Garden City side were frustrated this season in their defence of the UAE league championship, finishing sixth in the Arabian Gulf League, although they did qualify for the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League, writes John McAuley.

Al Ain's Omar Abdulrahman, left, played in Tuesday's Asian Champions League match against Al Jazira but left with an injury and his status is questionable for Thursday night's exhibition against Manchester City. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB
Al Ain's Omar Abdulrahman, left, played in Tuesday's Asian Champions League match against Al Jazira but left with an injury and his status is questionable for Thursday night's exhibition against Manchester City. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB

AL AIN // Omar Abdulrahman has attributed Al Ain’s recent run of form to a togetherness in the squad, as the club look to finish the season on a high.

The Garden City side were frustrated this season in their defence of the UAE league championship, finishing sixth in the Arabian Gulf League, although they did qualify for the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League courtesy of a 4-2 aggregate win over Al Jazira in the last 16.

In pictures: Al Ain advance to Asian Champions League quarter-finals

After securing their last-eight spot on Tuesday, Al Ain have the opportunity for yet more success when they take on Al Ahli in Sunday’s President’s Cup final. Lift the trophy, and Al Ain will hope to stretch their unbeaten record under coach Zlatko Dalic to 12 matches.

“Qualification for the Champions League quarter-finals was very important for us and a new experience for the team,” said Abdulrahman, who was part of the Al Ain side who last season failed to progress past the group stage.

“Only with team spirit and hard work have we achieved the victories. We’ve overcome a very important period, but the coming stage is even more vital.”

Al Ain’s 4-2 aggregate victory against Jazira had much to do with Asamoah Gyan. The prolific Ghanaian, who finished the domestic season with a third successive Golden Boot as the league’s most prolific scorer, notched three goals across the two ties to take his tally to 10 in this season’s Champions League, making him the tournament’s top scorer.

However, the significance of the goals has provided him the most satisfaction.

“Yeah, they’ve been really important,” Gyan said. “As a striker, that’s what everybody expects you to do. I’m in the right place at the right time. I just have to thank my colleagues because without them I couldn’t do what I’m doing now.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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