Groin injury to keep Omar Abdulrahman sidelined for month
Al Ain could be without Omar Abdulrahman for close to a month after the midfielder travelled to Italy to have treatment on a groin injury.
The playmaker, 22, last featured for the UAE champions during their President’s Cup semi-final victory against Al Nasr on January 30, and will definitely miss Thursday’s Arabian Gulf League clash with Al Wahda.
It is feared the problem is similar to the one that curtailed teammate Alex Brosque’s 2012/13 campaign, although Al Ain hope, unlike Brosque, Abdulrahman will not require surgery.
However, the injury to such a key player comes at an inopportune time for the Garden City club, as they attempt to rescue a frustrating season that currently places them fifth in the league standings.
The next two rounds pit Al Ain against the teams directly below them in the table, with Quique Sanchez Flores’s men to visit Nasr eight days after they host Wahda. At present, Al Ain are 12 points off the summit, with only nine matches remaining. A top-four finish appears their most realistic target.
Abdulrahman’s absence therefore represents a significant blow, especially as Al Ain embark on their Asian Champions League bid later this month, too. They kick off Group C on February 26 against El Jaish, the Qatar side, or Kuwait’s Qadsia SC. The two clubs meet each other in a play-off on Saturday.
Al Ain are confident they have the resources to cope with Abdulrahman’s unavailability, though, as they recruited Yassine El Ghanassy during the winter transfer window.
The Belgian-Moroccan showed glimpses of his talent when he made his first appearance against Al Dhafra last month - he was introduced as a second-half substitute - before he scored on full debut in last week’s 3-0 victory at Dubai club.
El Ghanassy should form an exciting attacking triumvirate with Asamoah Gyan and Brosque, although Al Ain will still look to push through Abdulrahman’s rehabilitation as quickly as possible.