Asamoah Gyan developing Al Ahli relationships that can make club ‘champions again’

Asamoah Gyan says 'our relationship is going really well' with fellow Al Ahli stars Rodrigo Lima and Everton Ribeiro, and that the coalescing frontline can spur another title run.
Asamoah Gyan of Al Ahli celebrates his goal against Emirates club on Saturday night. Christopher Pike / The National / September 17, 2016
Asamoah Gyan of Al Ahli celebrates his goal against Emirates club on Saturday night. Christopher Pike / The National / September 17, 2016

DUBAI // Asamoah Gyan says his budding relationship with Rodrigo Lima and Everton Ribeiro can fire Al Ahli to a second successive Arabian Gulf League title.

The former Al Ain striker, who joined the Dubai club on a season-long loan from Shanghai SIPG earlier this month, is already off the mark in the league for his new side, scoring after four minutes of Saturday’s season-opening victory against Emirates club.

The successful penalty, which Gyan won and then converted, stretched the Ghana forward’s impressive UAE top-flight record to 96 goals from 84 matches. It was his second for Ahli, following last week’s strike in the Arabian Gulf Cup win against Al Ain.

See more

• John McAuley: Asamoah Gyan is back and it’s like he never left, as Al Ahli fly high in opener

• In pictures: Asamoah Gyan makes AGL return with Al Ahli and gets right to business

With Gyan settling quickly into his stride, and with him striking up an obvious connection with Brazilian duo Lima and Ribeiro, he insists the UAE champions are well placed to defend their Arabian Gulf League crown.

“Definitely,” Gyan said. “We’re cooperating very well, we speak outside the pitch about how we’re going to play. Even at the training ground we’re getting on very well, which is very, very important. They’re both great players and me being a part of that is also a good deal for the team. It boosts our confidence. Our relationship is going really well and I hope we carry on. If we continue like this we can be champions again.”

Gyan also praised the contribution of Ahli manager Cosmin Olaroiu. The Romanian was integral to convincing Gyan to move to the club, since the pair know each other well from their time at Al Ain.

Olaroiu managed Gyan for two seasons in the Garden City, when they twice won the league title and the frontman twice captured the division’s Golden Boot.

“We’re very lucky to have a good coach who understands the game and who knows how to use the players on match day,” he said. “With our quality and with the quality of the coach we have, before we step onto the pitch everybody knows what he’s doing. It’s a good thing for us, but we should remember to keep on fighting. It’s very early to speak about targets. We have a very good future.”

Olaroiu has carefully managed Gyan’s return to UAE football. Still finding his way back to full fitness, he played the final four minutes of the Super Cup in Cairo on September 13, before being introduced in the 73rd minute against Al Ain. On Saturday, Gyan was withdrawn just before the hour.

“I’m not in my best shape, but at least I got a goal,” he said. “It’s very, very important for me. My condition is getting better compared to other two games I played. So it’s a good step for me.

“It’s good for a striker to be scoring. I’m more experienced, I know the league very well, so being on the scoresheet gives me confidence for the next game and I hope to continue.

“I always enjoy it. As I said before, I’m happy to play here and I’m happy to play under a coach I feel comfortable with, so it’s a good thing. I’m playing with happiness right now.”

‘It’s entertainment also’

Speaking about his celebration against Emirates, in which Gyan lead his teammates towards the television cameras behind the visitors’ goal before sinking to one knee and gesturing, he said: “It’s something that I worked on. The players here are very good – when I came all they were talking about was the celebration, what we were going to do when I scored.

“We just had to invent something to make people happy. Football is passion when you score, but sometimes it’s entertainment also. You need to entertain people watching at home and in the stadium. So we’re planning more celebrations.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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Published: September 18, 2016 04:00 AM

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