Australia may be gaining the majority of the plaudits in the Asian Cup at present after a 4-0 win over Oman guaranteed them a place in the knockout phase of the competition but keep a close eye out for tournament dark horses UAE and one player with a big future.
Omar Abdulrahman may not be a household name on English shores but, to anyone that followed the men’s football tournament at the 2012 Olympics in London, he may represent something of a familiar face.
After all, it was at those Games that the 23-year-old first burst on the scene, starring as part of an admittedly inexperienced UAE side that nevertheless held their own in a difficult group containing Uruguay and Senegal as well as the hosts Great Britain.
The midfielder’s performances soon caught the eye of Manchester City, with the Al-Ain youngster spending two weeks on trial with the Etihad club, with a view to earning a permanent move.
And everything looked on course when City tabled an offer of a four-year contract for the player, after liking what they had seen during his 14-day stay at the club.
In truth it was hardly a surprise with the midfielder previously linked with the likes of Benfica and Arsenal among others.
However, work permit issues coupled with UAE’s lowly FIFA ranking prevented Abdulrahman from completing his dream move to the Premier League with the midfielder still at Al-Ain and still impressing enough to be a reported target not only for City but also Liverpool, according to the Mirror.
Now a little older and a little wiser, the attacker has come into the Asian Cup off the back of some fine form for Al-Ain, where he has scored 11 goals and laid on a further 40 for his teammates over his last 62 appearances.
A highly-proficient dribbler who is supremely confident on the ball, Abdulrahman’s innate ability to pass accurately at speed makes him the ideal addition to the Premier League, with the attacker best deployed out wide, where his cultured left foot can be used to fine effect.
Similarly deadly from dead-ball situations, the UAE midfielder has long been tipped as possessing the potential to be the greatest Emirati footballer of his or any other generation and the key to helping UAE’s young and developing side take significant strides in the world of international football.
It could all start with a fine showing Down Under and after orchestrating a fine 4-1 win over group rivals Qatar in UAE’s opener, the omens are looking good for this under-the-radar playmaker.