Dubai: UAE Gulf Cup-winning coach Mahdi Ali has warned player of the tournament Omar Abdul Rahman not to rush into a European transfer this summer, in the latest round of rhetoric that suggests the Al Ain midfielder might stay.
Abdul Rahman, 21, has been linked with a string of European clubs following his golden ball-winning performance in January. This follows his starring role in the UAE’s debut appearance at an Olympic football finals in London last summer, which earned him a two-week trial with English Premier League champions Manchester City.
While work permit requirements were alleged to have put that move on hold, Abdul Rahman could still fulfil visa criteria in other European leagues, but solid offers are yet to have been made.
Ali, who was yesterday unveiled as the new brand ambassador for Audi, said: “Omar has the talent and ability to play in Europe, but I hope he doesn’t take the fast route. I hope he does it in stages.
“It’s not only a matter of football, but it’s also a social thing. His language and social life will all be different from what he’s used to. He would have to digest how to live in a certain condition, temperatures and environment are all different.”
Ali added: “I hope we have some players who go and play in Europe and take the opportunity, because I’m sure it would improve their performances for the future. Omar has the ability to play abroad and provided he does it in stages, he will reap the benefits.
“I want him to succeed and hope to see an official proposal for him. We don’t only want rumours; there is apparently a lot of interest for him, according to what we’ve read in the newspapers, but we want something official. Al Ain have said they are willing [to sell the player] if there is an official proposal that is beneficial for all.”
Ali, who was promoted to the role of UAE national team boss from his position as Olympic team coach last August, has since won 11 games and lost and drawn one apiece. Besides the Gulf Cup success, the UAE have also won their opening two 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers against Vietnam and Uzbekistan and are now preparing for the third match of a six game round-robin, away to Hong Kong on October 15.
“We hope to qualify and our dream is to be one of the top four teams at the 2015 Asia Cup in Australia, our second big goal is to qualify to the 2018 World Cup. We have a very young team, 16 of the Gulf Cup winning squad were under the age of 23, so we have a good chance of qualifying.”
Asked if October posed too long a wait to continue their run of ten games unbeaten, Ali, who is planning two friendlies and a practice tournament in Saudi Arabia as preparation, said: “This team started together in 2008 and for five years it’s been hard work and no holiday. This last year there’s been quite a tight schedule and the players need a break.
“From May until September, there will be no activities except to follow the recovery of injured players and monitor clubs during their pre-season camps abroad.”