Asamoah Gyan credits entire Al Ain squad for AGL success

Matt Monaghan 11:30 29/04/2015
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Giving them their due: Asamoah Gyan (l) was all praise for the reserves in Al Ain’s title run.

Al Ain superstar Asamoah Gyan has credited the lesser lights in the squad for their dominant run to the Arabian Gulf League crown.

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The Boss secured the title with three games to spare on April 17 after second-placed Al Jazira stumbled towards the finishing post.

They currently sit eight points clear after Monday night’s goalless draw at Al Wahda, the final whistle at Al Nahyan Stadium seeing the players celebrate wildly in front of the boisterous travelling support.

The club’s third top-flight success in four seasons has been claimed despite injury-ravaged campaigns for prized assets Gyan and standout playmaker Omar Abdulrahman.

Only four matches have been logged thus far with the pair starting, meaning others had to step up. 

The Ghana striker highlighted his stand-in Jires Kembo Ekoko and a pair of UAE defenders when discussing Al Ain’s success.

He said: “We have a lot of players who have stood up. Ismail Ahmed and Mohamed Ahmed, a lot of players. It is good when you have an all-round team, who can cope when you have a lot of players out. 

“There also is Jires Kembo Ekoko. When I have been injured, he has stood in for me and scored a lot of goals for the club and helped Miroslav Stoch.”

The triumph has seen coach Zlatko Dalic continue the rehabilitation job he began upon arrival.

He was an unheralded appointment in March 2014, but has overseen President’s Cup and AGL successes as well as a run to the 2014 AFC Champions League semi-finals.

“This season has been very difficult for the coach to choose his players, because of injuries,” Gyan said.

“Me and Omar, especially. He put in other players and they did their job. It was not easy. He has done an incredible job this season.”

Al Ain were down in eighth when Dalic joined, Jorge Fossati and Quique Sanchez Flores failing to fill in following Cosmin Olaroiu’s painful summer defection to Al Ahli.

Gyan declined to pinpoint anyone for the failure that immediately preceded the Croatian’s selection.

He said: “No disrespect to anybody, but I think we have played better football. We won the title for two years in a row and the third season was really bad.

“This can happen in football, no-one is to be blamed.”

The high-profile Premier League lifestyle with Sunderland was ditched by Gyan to join the Boss, initially on loan, in 2011.

The switch to the Middle East was denounced in certain quarters, but Gyan – who signed a contract extension until 2018 last July – believes his continued triumphs justified the “best move I have ever made”.

“Career-wise, it has been great,” he said. “There were a lot of criticisms when I left England.

“At international and club level, it has been tremendous for me. It has been the best move I have ever made in my career.”

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