Asamoah Gyan back in training and ready to fire Al Ain to glory
Asamoah Gyan may have joined the Al Ain pre-season training camp late, but the Ghanaian striker insists he and the rest of his teammates are working hard to be fighting fit in time for the new season.
Gyan enjoyed a stunning 2012/13 campaign when he scored a record-breaking 31 goals to fire Al Ain to a second successive Pro League title.
After a short summer break, the 27-year-old forward was back among the goals for the Ghana national team; most recently helping himself to a brace as the Black Stars fought back from two goals down to earn a draw in Turkey.
His goal-scoring exploits attracted interest from Turkish giants Galatasaray, who were keen to pair Gyan with another prolific African striker in the form of Ivory Coast superstar – and former Chelsea forward – Didier Drogba.
However, Gyan shunned their advances in favour of remaining with the UAE giants and following his international duties, reunited with his teammates for the remainder of their Austria-based training camp.
“We know all the teams in the league are doing their best to be technically and physically ready for when the new season kicks off,” said Gyan.
“I’m happy to be here at the camp; we all are motivated and are all improving gradually.
“I hope we can keep it up throughout the coming season because our team includes a great number of excellent players and I hope we can stay ahead of our rivals.”
The first test for Al Ain will be against Al Ahli in the Super Cup on August 30.
The encounter will bring with it added intrigue as it will be the first time Cosmin Olaroiu faces his former side following his controversial switch from the league champions to the Rashid Stadium earlier this summer.
As well as recruiting Olaroiu, Al Ahli have strengthened their playing squad in an attempt to close the gap on the league champions. Portugal international Hugo Viana as well as Brazilian forward Ciel and UAE defender Walid Abbas from Al Shabab have all arrived as the Red Knights look to end their five-year wait for the title.
Gyan is fully aware of the threat posed by Al Ahli but the former Sunderland striker insists Al Ain are confident of Super Cup success.
“[The Super Cup] will signal the beginning of the season and the match will be against a tough and stubborn opponent, but both the team and our fans are ready. We have to play at our best.
“I can’t predict what will happen in the match. We will need to double our efforts if we are to achieve our target and win. These matches are often such open affairs.”
It will undoubtedly be strange for Gyan and his teammates to see Olaroiu in an opposition dug-out but while the Ghanaian is full of praise for his former coach, he insists Al Ain are fully behind new boss Jorge Fossati.
“[Cosmin] is a good coach and can handle the players well,” Gyan said. “He knows our players but now we have a new coach with a new style and should do what the new coach asks of us on the field.”
Gyan had a message for Al Ain fans ahead of the season opener, adding: “I know [the fans] are looking forward to the new season and I know the importance of the Super Cup match.
“We are ready for all challenges this season will bring and we will do our best to make you happy.”