x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Asamoah Gyan nearly did not play in Etisalat Cup game

Ghana striker, who received last-minute clearance to play in Al Ain's 4-1 win over Al Wahda, could see his loan deal extended beyond current season if club have their way.

Asamoah Gyan, centre, scored twice during Al Ain’s 4-1 win over Al Wahda on Friday night.
Asamoah Gyan, centre, scored twice during Al Ain’s 4-1 win over Al Wahda on Friday night.

ABU DHABI // Al Ain had to frantically lobby with Fifa and the Ghana Football Association at the 11th hour to gain clearance for Asamoah Gyan to play in their Etisalat Cup game against Al Wahda and avoid a sanction by the game's governing body.

Gyan, the Ghana international striker, was called into the preliminary national team squad for the friendly last week with Chile but subsequently announced his temporary retirement from international football.

Fifa rules state that a player cannot play for his club for five days "in the event that the player, for whatsoever reason, did not wish to or was unable to comply with the summons [to the national team]".

Faced with the potential prospect of a fine, forfeiting of the matches he would be involved in and possible suspension of the club and their top scorer, manager Cosmin Olaroiu was reluctant to field Gyan against Al Wahda on Friday night, particularly as Al Ain needed other results to go their way to progress in the competition and winning the league is their priority.

However, the Romanian's fears were assuaged when club officials received an exemption certificate from Ghana on the eve of the game and clearance for Gyan to play from Fifa. Gyan responded by scoring twice in the 4-1 victory over Wahda on Friday night, taking his tally to 15 for the season.

Gyan's goal return has justified his season salary and the loan fee paid to Sunderland for his services for 12 months.

Al Ain remain confident they can extend Gyan's stay beyond a second season and feel Sunderland's claim there is "another club out there in the UAE looking at his services" could be a ploy to increase his value when it comes to negotiating a permanent deal.

Al Ain were offered David Trezeguet in the summer before the France World Cup-winning striker moved to Baniyas and held talks with Mamadou Niag, the Senegalese striker who was at Fenerbahce.

Club officials backed out of the deal due to the wage demands of Niag who eventually moved to Al Sadd in Qatar for a transfer fee of €7.5m, where he won the 2011 Asian Champions League.

Al Ain are thrilled with how the deal for Gyan has worked out. His goals have fired Al Ain to the top of the league, he endeared himself further to the fans by hiring a private plane to fly back from the African Cup of Nations to play in their match against Dubai last month and he has integrated well with his Emirati teammates.

"Last season the foreign players didn't fit in as well," Liam Weeks, the club's of head of performance analysis, said. "It's important they fit in and become of the lads. The Emirati lads respect him and joke with them.

"You often see Gyan walking around Al Ain Mall in a kandura and the fact he chartered flight back from Africa to play for us shows his dedication to the team."

kaffleck@thenational.ae