Al Arabi midfielder Ahmed Fathi in an Exclusive Interview with QSL Online

‘We like playing against strong opposition’

Ahmed Fathi is becoming a prominent presence in QNB Stars League side Al Arabi’s midfield. The 24-year-old underlined his potential by scoring against formidable side Al Sailiya away last week and it earned The Dream Team a valuable point. They also moved up in the standings by one place to eighth with 10 points.

It was the first league goal this season for Fathi, who recently represented Qatar at the Gulf Cup in Kuwait. He was the only player from Al Arabi in Felix Sanchez’s squad.

In an exclusive interview with QSL Online ahead of their QNB Stars League Week 13 home game against leaders Al Duhail on 19th January, Fathi expressed his views on various topics.

How do you see the game against Al Duhail?

It’ll be tough, for sure. In my opinion, Al Duhail are presently the best side in Qatar. No wonder, they’re leading the standings. But if you take this particular match, they’re also under pressure as much as we’re, for different reasons.

Al Duhail are closely chased by Al Sadd and Al Rayyan in the leader board, while we’re, to say the truth, fighting to avoid relegation. Only two points separate us and bottom-placed Qatar SC.

What’s the difference between Al Duhail and Al Arabi?

There’s a big difference. Al Duhail have top-quality players who play together, say for four/five years. Their professional as well as local players have been gelling well for long.

On the other hand, ours was almost a new team this season with many youngsters in the squad. And we changed team composition in many games in the QNB Stars League’s first phase.

What’s the result you expect from this game?

Al Duhail are certainly the favourites and we aren’t at our true level yet. I can’t predict the result. But, at Al Arabi, we like this kind of games. Personally too, I like the challenge of playing against strong opposition. That really motivates you. 

Who’s the Al Duhail player you respect or fear the most?

It’s (Youssef) Msakni. He’s a smart player and brilliant too when it comes to technique, dribbling, finishing, giving the last pass etc. He’s a top-class player.

Then, (Youssef) El Arabi is very dangerous inside the box. I think the other players are giving him ample support realising his acumen for scoring goals.

Where do you foresee Al Arabi at the end of this season?

Realistically-speaking, we aren’t title contenders in any tournament. I don’t think we can be in top four in QNB Stars League either. We can finish maybe sixth or seventh.

What difference have you observed in the strategies of (Qais) Yaakoubi and present coach (Luka) Bonacic?

I wouldn’t rather comment on the work done by a previous coach. Bonacic is a much-experienced coach and had prior knowledge of Qatar football, having managed Al Ahli and Al Shahaniya.

We had conceded a lot of goals in the beginning. Bonacic wanted to reverse that trend ever since he took over. And he made the side stronger defensively.

How do you find fellow players and team ambience?

Our squad consists of a lot of youngsters, who stand to benefit from the experience and expertise of senior players such Khalfan Ibrahim and Talal Al Balooshi. They share their knowledge and our dressing-room atmosphere is also good.

What message do you have to give the club’s passionate fans?

I’ve only one message to them — be patient for positive results. We almost started from scratch this season. We don’t have the team to challenge for titles. We don’t weave a magic wand either. So we want our fans to keep showing patience.