Asamoah Gyan says he and Al Ain will return stronger after winter break

This year, courtesy of a series of niggling injuries and a delayed suspension, the Ghanaian forward has only eight goals in the league at the midway point.

Asamoah Gyan finished the top scorer in each of the past three Arabian Gulf League seasons for Al Ain. Mostafa Reda / Al Ittihad
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DUBAI // Asamoah Gyan has suggested Arabian Gulf League goalkeepers might want to make the most of the month-long international break because when he returns to domestic action for Al Ain in February he intends to bring with him the goal-getting form that led to him finishing top scorer in each of the past three

seasons.

The Ghanaian forward moved to the UAE in the summer of 2011 from Premier League side Sunderland and last season netted his 100th goal in all competitions for the Garden City club and has 90 league goals in 74 appearances.

This year, courtesy of a series of niggling injuries and a delayed suspension by the Asian Football Confederation, he has only eight goals in the league at the midway point.

Al Ain ended the first half of the season joint-top of the domestic standings after rescuing a point in their 1-1 draw at Al Shabab on Monday night, but Gyan was again quiet.

His only memorable attempt at goal in 90 minutes was a header on the stroke of half-time that was tipped over the bar.

“It was a frustrating, but fair result,” Gyan said. “There were always three defenders behind me and no delivery, so I was really angry, but it is all part of the game.

“I have not been myself through this first round, but I am still working hard. I know what I can do.

“I have scored eight goals so far, which people thought I couldn’t do because my head was not in the right place. Hopefully, next year I will come back strongly.

“Watch out.”

Al Ain have coped admirably considering Gyan’s lack of goals and injuries to key players, including Omar Abdulrahman and Jires Kembo Ekoko.

Also read: Taking stock of the AGL season so far

The Asian Champions League semi-finalists remain behind Al Jazira at the summit of the domestic league on head-to-head after losing 4-3 in October.

They have also dropped points in 1-1 draws at home with Al Nasr and at Al Ahli.

“The break will be good for us because some of the players will be going to national teams and then coming back,” Gyan said.

“By the end of February everybody will be in tip-top shape. It’s not going to be easy, but we will have the full squad back.

“I am just praying for the health of the players to come back injury-free. I am sure that once we get the first team back we can win the league.”

While leaders Jazira have struggled defensively, they are reaping the benefits of having two strikers in blistering form. Mirko Vucinic and Ali Mabkhout have struck 25 of the club’s 37 goals and their performances have left Gyan impressed.

“Mirko is a good guy, a great striker,” he said of the Montenegrin, who moved to the UAE capital from Italian champions Juventus last summer. “It’s good to have that competition.

“I played against him in Italy and, no doubt, he is one of the top players in the league. He is the top scorer now, but I am not here to challenge anyone.

“I am here to do what I do best, and at the end of the day we will see.”

Gyan next goes on international duty with Ghana as they contest the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea between January 17 and February 8.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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