Al Ain coach Cosmin Olaroiu has tipped Asamoah Gyan to redouble his efforts for the club after returning from an understated performance with Ghana at the African Cup of Nations in South Africa.
The Black Stars lost the third-place play-off with Mali 3-1 on Saturday, having suffered a 3-2 penalty shoot-out defeat to Burkino Faso in the semi-final last week.
Captain Gyan, 27, scored just once in a 3-0 group phase win over Niger as he seemed starved of the usual support heaped upon him at club level.
He is six goals off equalling his own top scorer’s tally of 27 goals in all domestic competitions this season, giving him a total of 48 goals in 38 appearances since joining Al Ain from English club Sunderland.
Despite failing to make as big an impact for his national team, with whom he has scored 31 goals in 68 appearances, Al Ain coach Olaroiu has encouraged Gyan to throw himself back into club competition.
“I think his field is here,” said Olaroiu after Al Ain beat Bani Yas 2-1 — without Gyan’s services — in the quarter-final of the President’s Cup at Al Wasl’s Zabeel Stadium on Sunday.
“The way he plays with this team [Al Ain] and these players is different to how he plays with Ghana.”
After returning from last year’s African Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, where Ghana also finished fourth and Gyan also scored only once, he returned to net the second in a 2-0 win over Dubai Club. And Olaroiu is hoping for a repeat this year as the club heads into the AFC Champions League group stage, which starts on February 27.
Olaroiu said: “Last year he came after the competition and immediately he played [well] against Dubai Club. Now he has [another] great chance to play with us — to show the real Asamoah Gyan.”
Asked to rate Gyan’s latest African Nations campaign, Olaroiu said: “I don’t have to evaluate his performance with Ghana. It’s [his performance] with us that’s my problem.
“They play a different way, they have different players. I know this, I saw this and I spoke to him about it. He plays different there. But we have to judge him for what he does here, not there, they are different circumstances.”
At this stage of the President’s Cup last year, Al Ain lost to Bani Yas 1-0 as Gyan was away. However, they have lessened their dependence on the talisman this year and recorded a 2-1 win this time around.
Jires Kembo Ekoko assisted twice, setting up Ali Al Wahaibi and Alex Brosque, to down Bani Yas, for whom Mohammad Aboutrika’s debut goal was not enough.