Al Ain: The AFC Champions League quarter-finals feature a classic encounter between Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal and their Emirati rivals Al Ain.
Ahead of the clash, we profile star midfielders Omar Abdulrahman and Nawaf Al Abed as they find themselves face to face one again.
Eight Man-of-The-Match accolades saw Abdulrahman named the 2016 AFC Champions League Most Valuable Player, despite his team Al Ain losing the final to Korea Republic’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
In December, he added the 2016 AFC Player of The Year award to his cabinet, having finished second behind compatriot Ahmed Khalil the previous year.
After netting just three times for Saudi Arabia since his international debut in 2010, attacking midfielder Al Abed found his scoring boots in 2016, producing four goals in his country's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign.
At club level, 2016/17 was also Al Abed’s best season in front of goal, netting eight in the domestic league as Al Hilal won the Saudi Pro League for the first time in six years.
The current campaign
Al Ain’s number 10 has traditionally been the man spraying killer passes to create opportunities for strikers, but this year Abdulrahman has developed a penchant for finding the back of the net.
Indeed, the playmaker has been on the scoresheet so consistently that he now sits atop the scoring charts in the 2017 AFC Champions League with seven goals, two of which have come from the penalty spot.
Al Abed’s most recent trip to the United Arab Emirates with Al Hilal produced a goal in his team’s 2-2 draw against Al Wahda in this season’s group stage.
The midfielder has been a key component in Al Hilal’s attacking play under Ramon Diaz, his passing and movement in the final third creating space and opportunities for the likes of Omar Khribin and Carlos Eduardo to deliver the goals.