UAE’s Omar Abdulrahman named Asian Player of 2016


Abu Dhabi—Omar Abdulrahman, arguably Asia’s biggest star, was crowned AFC player of the year in a glittering ceremony in his home country of United Arab Emirates.
The left-sided midfielder and winger is the second Emirati to win the trophy in consecutive years and his award was greeted with a huge cheer in the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The victory was even sweeter as he was nominated last year but lost out to compatriot, Ahmed Khalil.
But the 25-year-old said the trophy would not make up for his Emirati league side Al Ain losing in the recent Asian Champions League final.
“My main ambition was to win the Champions League trophy,” he said.
“The trophy is not only for me but it’s for all my colleagues at Al Ain and the national team.”
Al Ain lost 3-2 on aggregate to South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors last month.
Abdulrahman, who once had a two week trial for English side Manchester City, also admitted he would like to play in Europe.
“Every player dreams of playing in Europe but that is God’s will,” he said.
“If I get a good offer, I wouldn’t mind with a good and big club.”
The award caps a stellar 2016 for the 25-year-old.
Even though his club side lost the AFC Champions League final he was named the tournament’s best player.
He also carries the international hopes of the UAE, which has a real chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finals.
They currently stand in fourth place in AFC Group B in the third round of qualifying, just one point behind leaders Saudi Arabia.
The eventual top two teams from the group will automatically qualify for Russia. Despite his age, Abdulrahman has already been capped more than 50 times for the UAE.
He beat Wu Lei of China and Iraq’s Hammadi Ahmed to claim the night’s most coveted prize.
Ahmed was aiming to be the first winner from Iraq.
The women’s award was won by Caitlin Ford, a former AFC young player of the year. She is the first woman to win both awards.
Ford, who represented the Australian women’s team, the Matildas, at the Rio Olympics, said she was honoured to win – but was surprised.
“I wasn’t really expecting this to be honest,” she said.
“My winning this trophy reflects on an amazing year for us Matildas and I have taken this for all of them.”
Australia reached the quarter-finals stage, going out to hosts Brazil on penalties.—AFP

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