This week’s edition of Middle Eastern footballers abroad looks at the Saudi full back Saeed Al-Muwallad to begin with. Al-Muwallad left Al-Ittihad Jeddah under certain circumstances but it is important to note that he is happy at Farense after receiving his pass to play. Furthermore, we will look at AEK Larnaca’s new 16 year old signing Joseph Khalife, the brother of Peter Khalife. Finally, we have German-Syrian central midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud…
“You know, this really is an amazing experience for me. Playing abroad for an Arab player is a dream, and with thanks to God I achieved it. The atmosphere is good here at Farense Club; the administration is dealing with me in a very professional way. Alongside the managers and the players who treat you extremely well in an ideal environment that helps the player develop.”
“Well, thanks to God. We have a good group of players, you know every the game the players and the team are improving. I hope we have good luck coming in the next games. Here there is a lot of pressure and there are many games to play in the league alongside the cup.” “First of all with the permission of God, then the players coming together in the team, with the manager and the technical staff. I hope we return to the team to their ordinary habitat.” However, did he forget his previous club and Jeddah-based side Al-Ahli, the team that set off his career? “Al-Ahli Club (Saudi Arabia) have a big name, and despite not being an academy player with Al-Ahli I was there with the U-19s and Olympic teams before coming into the first team. What I produced during my time there, I learnt a lot from it whether it was from board members or coaches. I prioritise this club a lot, without a shadow of a doubt.” There has been a lot of talk surrounding the situation of players leaving Portugal after little benefit as a player abroad, returning to their previous clubs just to win a bigger contract in the end by their ‘propaganda’ moves and complaints. “Unfortunately there is talk with bad intentions of this situation. Whether this person is talking about Saeed Al-Muwallad or not talking about Saeed Al-Muwallad, they have a certain goal that they want to achieve. However, to be completely honest with you, I am not really honoured to answer such claims. I mean, these rumours or claims have absolutely no credibility or basis. And as long as my God knows my intentions [to play abroad and give a good image to Arabic footballers] then that is the most important thing. Hopefully with God’s will, I will be able to personally succeed and whoever is with me, is with me no matter the nationality. It doesn’t matter if a Qatari, Saudi or “Khaleeji” (Gulf) is supporting me as long as there are people supporting my cause which is the main point.”
How did your brother help you see the results of consistent and flexible training?
He trained me twice per day every single day, running in the morning before going to school and after school with the school team and after that with the club as well. When we arrived home he made flexibility and mobility training and told me to watch positioning videos on the Internet whenever I could. He has always been beside me and even now, advice continues to come from him.
What do you see different in Lebanon to the way you were introduced in Cyprus? In Cyprus that school I am in consists of a swimming pool with several football fields and a gym. UEFA coaches train me 2 hours in the morning during the school day and after that I go home and study. In the afternoon I have team training with the club. So basically the team takes care of me wherever I go and try to develop me properly in order to push myself beyond the limits.
What are your ambitions at the club?
Of course my ambitions are as any 16 year old boy and what we dream of, and this is to play in the first team and compete at the highest level. This year I will train and develop very well and get into the atmosphere of the team and work on the chemistry hopefully. Next year I will strive and push myself for the first team. How do you feel abroad experience is key for Arab players to develop? Since in my country we have lots of talented players but due to many of them not getting developed properly we are losing them which is a significant blow to our footballing development in Lebanon. It’s good for any of us who get to develop in Europe on the big stage and represent our country and try to help succeeding. The experience we learn and get here will help other players in Lebanon to learn and watch carefully how it’s done.
After winning the Borussia Monchengladbach Player of the Month for the month of September, Mahmoud Dahoud has not stopped his run of form. Besides the loss against Manchester City, Schubert’s Gladbach have been on a fine run of form. In that period, Dahoud has cemented is place as a starter in central midfield for the Foals. At his age, he’s already played at home to like of Premier League leaders Manchester City and Champions League finalists Juventus. In the process of facing both, he has come up against the challenge of Yaya Toure and Paul Pogba; no mean feat. Here is a video of his goal against Augsburg: http://www.tubechop.com/watch/7054836 His apparent choice of Germany as his national team may just be the end of our coverage on him as a true Middle Easterner Abroad, but that won’t be until he makes a competitive appearance for them. Yet even if he doesn’t play for Germany it doesn’t look like he will play for Syria considering the stances Firas Al-Khatib, Omar Al-Somah and others took to show their solidarity against the Syrian national team’s political beliefs.