Al Ain centre-back Mohamed Ahmed happy to play wherever asked after injury-ravaged 2016/17 season

Matt Jones 18:52 28/09/2017
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Mohamed Ahmed admits he is enjoying his newfound role as a central defender for Al Ain and insists he will carry on in that position for as long as he is required.

The UAE international, 28, has featured at the heart of the Boss’ defence as opposed to his usual right-back role in the early stages of the Arabian Gulf League season.

And, having endured a nightmarish 2016/17 campaign ravaged by injury, Ahmed is just happy to be back playing regularly.

“Being injured was difficult but I am just thankful I have been able to return to the team and be a core member again,” said Ahmed, the former Al Shabab defender.

“They were difficult conditions like many other players have faced during periods of injury, but personally I always looked forward to getting back to competition and to once again show my best.”

The Dubai-born defender has won 50 caps for the Whites since his 2011 debut, most of which have been played while at Al Ain, whom he joined in 2012.

Ahmed returned to the Boss first team in a 3-2 home win against Al Wahda in April – a full eight months after he had last featured for the Garden City side following a knee injury suffered in August against Lokomotiv Tashkent in the 2016 AFC Champions League.

Now fully on the mend, Ahmed has featured at centre-back for Zoran Mamic’s side in the first two games of the AGL season – a 2-2 draw with Al Wasl on opening night and a 3-0 triumph over Hatta last week – in the absence of international colleagues Ismail Ahmed and Muhanad Salem.

Salem will return for the visit of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai tomorrow but Ahmed is still working his way back to full fitness, meaning Ahmed is likely to once again feature at centre-back, with Salem.

“Any assignments that the coach gives me enhances my understanding of the game and whether I play in the center or side of defence, I just hope to contribute to a good team performance,” said Ahmed.

“I am more committed to my defensive duties now, unlike at right-back when I linked in with offensive tasks and personally I look forward to providing the best performance for success for me, the team and the club’s loyal fans.”

Tomorrow’s opponents will provide some sense of nostaligia for Ahmed. His former side Shabab merged with fellow AGL giants Al Ahli in the summer, as well as Dubai CSC, to form the new Shabab Al Ahli.

But rather than focus on the demise of his former side, Ahmed is focused only on Al Ain’s future.

He said: “I do not think about it from the integration perspective as much as we focus on going out against an opponent, looking to win.”

Shabab Al Ahli coach Cosmin Olaroiu returns to the city where he enjoyed so much success, leading the Boss to back-to-back AGL titles in 2011/12 and 2012/13 before defecting to the Red Knights.

And Ahmed said there will be no sympathy for his former manager once the whistle blows.

“When we enter any football match I do not think about the faces or certain names as much as we focus on showing the fighting spirit and achieving a strong result,” he added.

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