Al Ain and United Arab Emirates star Omar Abdulrahman has been named the 2016 AFC Player of the Year following a string of stellar performances for both club and country.
Beaten to the 2015 award by compatriot Ahmed Khalil, the prodigiously talented 25-year-old made up for that disappointment by topping this year’s shortlist ahead of Iraq’s Hammadi Ahmed and Wu Lei from China.
Abdulrahman’s recognition comes after the diminutive midfielder played pivotal roles in guiding Al Ain to this season’s AFC Champions League final, and the UAE to within touching distance of a place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Despite failing to land silverware with Al Ain at the end of a domestic season which saw the Emirati giants finish second in the league and runners-up in the President’s Cup, Abdulrahman shone brightly during his side’s quest for AFC Champions League glory.
In total, the midfield maestro garnered eight Most Valuable Player Awards, three goals and plaudits galore as Al Ain stormed through the Group Stage, overcame Zobahan, Lokomotiv and El Jaish in the knockout phase and then lost to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors over two legs in the final after which Abdulrahman was duly voted the Toyota Most Valuable Player of the Competition.
Affectionally known as ‘Amoory’ by his legion of fans, Abdulrahman has been equally impressive on the international stage.
Continuing the fine form he consistently produced throughout the previous twelve months, Abdulrahman bagged a further two Most Valuable Player accolades and a goal against Saudi Arabia as his dazzling 2016 performances helped steer the United Arab Emirates through to the ongoing final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
With Asia’s Road to Russia campaign set to resume in March, UAE supporters are now hoping that the irrepressible Abdulrahman can continue where he left off in 2016 and help Mahdi Ali’s side seal a place at the global extravaganza for the first time since Italia ’90.