United Arab Emirates fans may have been sorry to see Omar Abdulrahman leave Al Ain for Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in August but ahead of the 2019 Asian Cup in January, there is some comfort as the star playmaker is in excellent form.
The continental tournament will take place on U.A.E. soil and the performances of "Amoory" offer a ray of hope amid a run of poor results for the national team who will face Thailand, India and Bahrain in the group stage.
The 2016 AFC Player of the Year had been linked with some of Europe's big clubs since bursting onto the international scene at the 2012 Olympics and a subsequent contract offer from Manchester City. There was some surprise when he joined Al Hilal in August in a season-long loan deal worth a reported $15 million.
He has been proving his worth however. Al Hilal have played six competitive games this season and won all six. Four victories in the Saudi Pro League have the Riyadh giants sitting in first place and there were also wins in the Saudi Super Cup final over Al Ittihad in London and then the Arab Champions Cup.
Abdulrahman was in action once again on Monday as Al Hilal defeated Al Fateh 3-2 to stay top thanks to a goal after 94 minutes from Venezuelan striker Gelmin Rivas.
"It was a difficult game and it is these kinds of games that make us grow as a team and improve ahead of the coming games," Abdulrahman told Saudi television.
The 27 year-old is enjoying playing under Jorge Jesus. The experienced Portuguese tactician who has spells in charge of Benfica and Sporting Lisbon wants to bring a new style with the defending champions.
"He wants us to keep possession of the ball in order to create the necessary space in order to get behind teams," Abdulrahman continued. "We did that and we were able to get the victory."
Despite the encouraging start, Abdulrahman is looking for more. "We need to keep improving and get consistent results."
"We are playing in a more positive way and I hope to play a part this season. If I am playing well then it is down to my teammates on the pitch. I am looking forward to the rest of the season."