Asian Champions League: Omar Abdulrahman ‘the best player in Asia’ says El Jaish manager
AL AIN // Sabri Lamouchi says his El Jaish side were outdone by undoubtedly the best player in Asia after Omar Abdulrahman inspired Al Ain to a 3-1 victory in the first leg of their Asian Champions League semi-final.
The UAE playmaker, wearing the captain’s armband, had a hand in all three goals at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday night, scoring a free kick sandwiched between assists for Brazilian duo Douglas and Caio. Sardor Rashidov had struck from the penalty spot for El Jaish when the score was 2-0.
• Asian Champions League: Al Ain put one foot in the final with 3-1 win over El Jaish
Abdulrahman’s display was the highlight, though, and earned the midfielder a seventh man-of-the-match award from 11 appearances in this year’s competition. Speaking after a tense encounter in the Garden City, Lamouchi heaped praised on the chief contributor to his team’s defeat.
“Al Ain have, for me, absolutely the best player in Asia,” the Frenchman said. “He made the difference tonight.
“He is an unbelievable player. I love him a lot, but it’s not only me. All coaches want a player like him. Because he fights with heart, and he is also a very nice playmaker with an amazing left foot.”
With Abdulrahman, 25, leading a strong Al Ain side intent on capturing a second Champions League crown for the club, Lamouchi remains realistic regarding the size of the task facing El Jaish. The return leg takes place in Doha on October 18, with the hosts needing to find the net at least twice to have any chance of progressing to a first final.
“It will be really difficult now to score two goals against this team. It’s not easy,” Lamouchi said. “We will see if we have a chance.”
Irrespective of the first-leg score, and despite Abdulrahman’s continuing influence, Lamouchi’s opposite number expects a tough challenge in Qatar next month.
“The first half tonight was great for our side. We did everything we wanted,” said Zlatko Dalic, the Al Ain manager. “We scored two goals and we had a great result.
“I told my players in the dressing room at half time that they had to be careful in the second half, not go forward too much as the other team could do something.
“But it is a semi-final, you cannot expect other teams will do nothing. Thankfully we scored a third goal. It is a good result for us. If somebody had given me 3-1 before the game, of course I would have taken it.
“I have to be happy with my players,” Dalic added. “In one month when we play the second game we will be more ready.”
Tuesday, first leg
• Al Ain 3 El Jaish 1
Wednesday, first leg
• Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors v FC Seoul, 2pm (UAE)
Return legs are October 18 and 19.
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Published: September 27, 2016 04:00 AM