The fall of Asia’s best player

How the mighty can fall is something no one can ever predict. UAE’s Omar Abdulrahman is a huge name not just in footballing circles in the Gulf and the wider Middle East but in the whole of Asia as well. But the 26-year-old attacking midfielder, who was named Asia’s best player by FourFourTwo Asia last year, has probably had the worst night of his career in Kuwait City.

Much is made of the ‘Arabian Messi’ but he surely was not the messiah of his nation on a massive night for the UAE.
The Al Ain player, who once had a trial with Manchester City, had his worst possible nightmare come true when he failed to convert two game-changing penalties against Oman in the 23rd Arabian Gulf Cup final.
The first of the two penalties came in the last minute of regulation time.
As he stood up to take the penalty against Oman’s in-form goalkeeper Fayez al Rushaidi, Omar was certainly confident and the Emirati fans were expectant.
The UAE players and fans sniffed victory and they were just a minute away from being champions.
However, all that changed when Omar’s effort was saved by Fayez and the former was a picture of distraught and disbelief.
About 30 minutes later, after both Oman and UAE failed to break the deadlock in extra time, the match went into penalties.
It was 4-4 in the shoot-out when Omar walked up to take UAE’s fifth attempt and this was supposed to be his moment of redemption.
Instead of redeeming the lost opportunity of closing out the game earlier, Omar completed the devastating night of his career when he failed to convert the fifth penalty and effectively hand Oman the Arabian Gulf Cup crown.
The most striking aspect about the ‘Beautiful Game’ is how humbling the sport can be and the travails of Omar Abdulrahman is an education in that regard.
It was at the 2012 London Olympics where Manchester United’s Daniel Sturridge told Omar that he was good enough to play in Europe and it was a recognition of the man’s immense talent.
To have a night as horrible as Friday will only strengthen Omar’s resolve and make him a greater student of the game.
This is definitely not a night Omar will like to remember for a long time to come but if he does it will make him a better and greater player.

Haridev Pushparaj