Al Ain banking on ‘Brazilian Amoory’
Al Ain will look to star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman as they bid to snatch victory from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the second leg of the AFC Champions League final today. Top-rated Abdulrahman, known as “Amoory” will be a key man as the Emiratis strive to overcome a 2-1 deficit against South Korea’s Jeonbuk at their home stadium in UAE. Brazilian hitman Leonardo hit a sizzling second-half double to give Jeonbuk the edge in last week’s first leg, after Abdulrahman brilliantly set up Al Ain’s opener. Leonardo said shaggy-haired Abdulrahman, who has drawn interest from Manchester City, Barcelona and Arsenal, played with all the freedom of a Brazilian-but warned he wasn’t Al Ain’s only dangerman.
“Omar Abdulrahman is like a Brazilian, an incredible player with great quality,” said the Jeonbuk forward, according to the Asian Football Confederation website.”He’s performed with distinction for Al Ain and for his national team, and the fact that there are many big clubs after him is evidence enough of his ability. “But we have to focus not only on him, Al Ain have other dangerous players who we must prepare for. As a team, I don’t believe they are very different from us in terms of the setup and playing style, we just have to be careful.” Expectations are high for Abdulrahman, who will try to help Al Ain win their second Asian title and, next week, is favorite to be named Asia’s player of the year at an awards show in Abu Dhabi.
Abdulrahman was anonymous in last week’s first half in Jeonju but he came alive after the break, forcing a fine save before he held off three defenders to set up Danilo Asprilla’s opener. It looked to have turned the game but Leonardo equalized with a rocket from outside the box before he calmly converted a penalty to put Jeonbuk in the driving seat.
Colombia’s Asprilla warned the final wasn’t over yet and said Al Ain still expected to be crowned Asia’s club champions in front of their home fans. “On our own pitch, at home, we can play our game-our beautiful football and we have confidence we can get the result we want,” he said. “I believe in myself and my team-mates that we can get the win at home and can lift the AFC Champions League title.” However, Jeonbuk’s attacking trident of Leonardo, Kim Shin-Wook and Ricardo Lopes remain a real threat and Al Ain will do well to keep them quiet for 90 minutes.
Leonardo’s double put him on 10 goals for the competition, a hat-trick away from equaling the all-time record of 13 shared by Guangzhou Evergrande’s Muriqui and Adriano of FC Seoul. “We have to play intelligently in today’s game and we have to work hard and work together to ensure we can secure the victory we need,” Leonardo said. “The AFC Champions League is everything we’ve worked towards this year, not just this year, but ever since losing the 2011 final. “Now that we have this opportunity we have to give our lives to win this game. — AFP