x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Asamoah Gyan has 'no problem' with Sunderland

Al Ain striker looks to clarify his comments on the English Premier League club.

Al Ain’s Asamoah Gyan, centre, says he left Sunderland ‘in peace’ and says the team was good for his career.
Al Ain’s Asamoah Gyan, centre, says he left Sunderland ‘in peace’ and says the team was good for his career.

AL AIN // Asamoah Gyan, the Al Ain striker, last night expanded on remarks he made on Tuesday regarding his former club Sunderland and their fans.

The Ghanaian joined the Pro League side on loan from the English Premier League team last summer, and Al Ain took up the option to buy out his contract last month.

In a media conference on Tuesday, Gyan had said he had no interest in returning to Sunderland and had not heard from Martin O'Neill, the manager.

However, speaking to The National last night, Gyan wanted to clarify his position.

"My agent called me about the interview. They said I didn't want to go back to Sunderland and I don't like it there.

"The team was good for me. I love the fans and I love the club. They bought me for £13 million (Dh77m) and they did a lot for my career. When I left there the fans were very good to me. I didn't have any negative feelings towards anybody. In football you need to move sometimes."

When asked if he would like to return to Sunderland, Gyan replied: "For now I am at Al Ain. I'm still here and happy to be here. But I would be happy to play anywhere I go."

The Pro League's leading scorer explained that his agent had seen a story online, saying he did not like it in Sunderland and did not wish to return. However, yesterday Gyan said: "I didn't really say that. I left Sunderland in peace. I had no problem with anybody.

"When Al Ain made an offer, they accepted it and I had to move. I had no choice but to move.

"I had no trouble with anybody at Sunderland but that is life in football."

He is now at a club where the fans have long had a reputation as the most numerous and passionate in the Pro League, but this is the first season in the professional era in which Al Ain will lead the top flight in attendance, and Cosmin Olaroiu has noticed.

"Player No 12 for us has been the fans," Al Ain's coach said last night. "I am happy to see more fans than last year, and seeing them makes me just as happy as winning the championship."

While viewing videotape from the 2010/11 season, when Al Ain were 10th in the 12-team table, the Romanian noticed empty swathes in the Tahnoon bin Mohammed Stadium seating.

All teams have played 10 home games in the league, and Al Ain lead in attendance with an average home crowd of 7,407, but only moved ahead of Al Jazira in Round 19, when they drew a crowd of 15,922 for a game against the Abu Dhabi club. Jazira are second at 6,951 per home match. Jazira, however, led the league in attendance the previous three seasons, and in 2009/10 Al Ain were third, also behind Al Wahda.

During the difficult season last year, Al Ain's home attendance eroded to 4,950.

Al Ain play Al Shabab tomorrow and Olaroiu lamented that each side will have a key player to suspended, Ciel for Al Shabab and Mirel Radoi for Al Ain.

"It would be better for the fans if they played because both of them are very good players," he said.

"We want to keep our perfect record of winning all our home games, but it will be a tough match because Al Shabab are a good team and very well balanced because [Paulo] Bonamigo has been the coach there for quite some time."

Bonamigo is completing his third season with the Dubai side, and recently signed a two-year contract extension.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

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