Al Ain dream of Champions League glory after domestic triumph
Al Ain After celebrating their 10th league title win in emphatic fashion by routing Ajman 4-0 in their final match of the campaign on Saturday, Al Ain have their sights set on AFC Champions League glory next season.
Two goals by Ghana international Asamoah Gyan, the league’s top scorer, and one each by Ignacio Scocco and the star player of the night Omar Abdul Rahman, were the perfect aperitif to the spectacular celebrations that followed.
Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Adviser to the National Security Council and the club’s First Deputy President, who presented the trophy and medals to the Al Ain players, said the team would now seek to excel on the Asian stage next season. “The AFC Champions League competition isn’t going to be easy but Al Ain won’t be easy opponents either,” Shaikh Hazza said.
“The Asian football fans will enjoy the performances of the team.”
Al Ain’s title was their first for eight years, before which they won it five times.
They also survived a relegation battle last year, making this year’s title triumph especially sweet.
Shaikh Hazza also praised the support of the club’s fans, which has also been acknowledged by coach Cosmin Olariou and several players.
“When I motivate the players in the dressing room before every match, my core theme is the Al Ain fans,” said Olariou.
“Before the players entered the pitch to face Al Jazira recently, I told them to look at the streets of the city and see how full they were on that day. I asked them to think about the thousands of people in the stands waiting to support them.
“I also wanted them to consider the hundreds and thousands of people watching them on television. I impressed upon them that everyone had put their faith in them and that it was their responsibility to satisfy these legions of fans.
“I believe I have put a smile on the faces on the people of Al Ain and I hope happiness of the city will continue into the coming seasons,” he added.
“Al Ain fans have to know that they were our inspiration. It was the support and belief of our fans that saw us through to the finish line.”
Saudi Arabian striker Yasser Al Qahtani, on loan from Al Hilal, said: “It was a great honour to be part of this winning team. I will be happy to stay on here, but would also be happy to return to my club.”
African great Abedi Pele, who played for Al Ain and helped them to a President’s Cup triumph in 1999, said he was elated to be invited to the title celebrations.
“Al Ain is one of the top clubs in Asia now,” he said.