New Al Ahli striker Asamoah Gyan isn’t guaranteed a debut against his old club Al Ain in Wednesday’s Arabian Gulf Cup (AGC) match, despite coach Cosmin Olaroiu saying the Red Knights need to be more clinical in front of goal.
However, injury plagued his UAE record 20 million euro (Dh81.3 million) move to Shanghai last summer and his reintegration may still take time, according to Olaroiu, who was also Gyan’s manager at Al Ain until he moved to Al Ahli in 2013.
“At the beginning of the season we should focus more on taking advantage of our chances,” said Olaroiu in reference to Al Ahli’s 1-0 defeat away to Al Nasr in Friday’s AGC group opener.
“But regarding Gyan, he for me is just one player among many other players. He’s come here to compete with all the other attackers in the team and people shouldn’t think he is my favourite, because I don’t care about which names are on the field.
“All players are given the same opportunity to participate and the players who provide a good level are involved. I said before this tournament it was an opportunity to see all players.”
Both sides are missing key performers due to ongoing international matches and while Al Ahli will use this game to prepare back-up options for next week’s Super Cup against Al Jazira in Cairo, Al Ain will be doing the same ahead of their Asian Champions League quarter-final second leg away to Lokomotiv Tashkent.
“The situation is difficult,” said Olaroiu, heading into next Tuesday’s Super Cup and the start of their Arabian Gulf League title defence on September 16. “I can only judge the readiness of players who are with me. But I hope we will be at our best level when we are all back together.”
Of his former club Al Ain, who beat Kalba 3-2 at home in their AGC group opener on Friday, Olaroiu added: “They will mainly feel absences in the back line, as they have good alternatives in midfield and up front. We expect a good game despite these absences, because they showed they had good options against Kalba.”
Al Ain winger Danilo Asprilla said games between both sides — who have shared the Arabian Gulf League title for the past five years — required significant focus from start to finish.
“We need to do better in front of Al Ahli if we are to continue the positive start against Kalba. We are well aware that won’t be easy, but even away from home we are determined to take three points.”