UAE star Omar Abdulrahman certain to miss 2019 Asian Cup after ACL tear is confirmed

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The worst fears of 2019 Asian Cup hosts the UAE appear to have been realised after Al Hilal announced superstar playmaker Omar Abdulrahman has suffered “an anterior cruciate ligament tear” and is set for imminent surgery.

Abdulrahman, 27, jarred his right knee in a collision with Romania defender Valerica Garman when stretching for a cross in just the fifth minute of Saturday evening’s 1-0 win at Al Shabab Riyadh in the Saudi Professional League. He immediately clutched the affected area in agony, was taken away for medical treatment and pictured crying on the substitutes’ bench after Saudi Arabia midfielder Abdullah Otyaf replaced him.

Attempts to X-ray the injury had to be delayed until Tuesday because of swelling. No official recovery date was provided, but an expected absence of at least six months would make the 2016 AFC Player of the Year unavailable for January 5’s opener against Bahrain at Zayed Sports City – and beyond.

“Following medical tests carried out on Al Hilal UAE’s player Omar Abdulrahman, he has been diagnosed with anterior cruciate ligament tear, and the operation appointment will be determined later,” Hilal tweeted.

The severity of the problem would also seemingly put an end to a one-season adventure with boyhood club, Hilal. ‘Amoory’ returned to the city of his birth in August after a protracted chase – that included suitors from Spain, France and the Netherlands – once his contract at Al Ain ran down.

He will exit the Crescent after one goal and one assist in five SPL appearances under head coach Jorge Jesus. The ex-Benfica and Sporting Lisbon head coach bemoaned the loss of a key conductor.

He said: “We are unfortunate that we have lost Amory, who is one of our most important and creative players.”

‘Amoory’ is the Whites’ talisman and one of Asia’s most celebrated players. On October 11, alone, he produced a stupendous curled shot to secure a 1-1 friendly draw with Honduras.

Worryingly, though, the ex-Manchester City trialist has a history of serious knee issues. A second surgery on his ACL saw him miss the first half of the 2011/12 season, while 2014/15 was also blighted with similar issues.

Abdulrahman’s plight had already alerted Turki Al-Sheikh, the all-powerful chairman of the General Sports Authority in Saudi Arabia, at the weekend.

He tweeted: “I directed the specialists in the Sports Authority to coordinate with the management of Al Hilal and treat ‘Amoory’ urgently in the best places in the world.”

Amoory’s absence should see an expanded role for Al Jazira creator Khalfan Mubarak. The 23-year-old has seven assists in six Arabian Gulf League matches this term.

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