Al Arabi midfielder Diego Jardel in an Exclusive Interview with QSL Online
Diego Jardel has been holding QNB Stars League side Al Arabi’s midfield together ever since he came to Qatar at the start of this season. He has witnessed The Dream Team’s rollercoaster ride from close quarters.
The 28-year-old Brazilian has a penchant for being an attacking medio and that has seen him score four goals so far. Al Arabi have completed back-to-back wins, against Al Kharaitiyat and Al Markhiya, and are currently placed ninth with 18 points.
Ahead of Al Arabi’s much-anticipated QNB Stars League Week 20 game against Al Rayyan on Friday, 9th March, Jardel spoke to QSL Online about a wide range of topics.
How was your introduction to Qatar football?
I came to know about Qatar football from Junior Dutra, who also played in Al Arabi in 2015-16. Dutra, who played in our native side Avai where I also learned the tricks of the trade and later became a professional, gave me a good picture of the game here.
How did you find yourself fitting into Al Arabi’s scheme of things?
The feeling was good. I hit my straps immediately after getting good support from everyone, from fellow players as well as technical and administrative staff. On my part, I found that it was a good opportunity for me.
What were your priorities with your team in the QNB Stars League?
Al Arabi is a big name with much reputation and loyal fans. I’m happy to be helping the team’s cause in the best way I can. I believe my game has improved after every day.
What was the reason Al Arabi had been struggling from the start of this season?
The squad is strong and we’ve good players in all positions. But many of them joined the side at the start of this season and took time to settle down. Two or three players alone can’t make the difference. They say ‘well begun is half done’. That didn’t happen in our case.
How do you differentiate between coach Luka Bonacic and his predecessor Qais Yaakoubi?
Look, both are good coaches, but their approach has been different. If you had noticed, Yaakoubi was more attack-minded and we ended up conceding more and more goals. At the end of first phase, we had only nine points, half of what we’ve now. And we had conceded 24 goals as against 38 now. Bonacic instilled a defensive mentality in the players. We had lost to marauding side Al Duhail only by a 0-1 margin in Week 13!
Al Arabi have recorded consecutive victories and are in good form…
Yes. Those two matches were like finals for us. We gave our everything and those six points matter a lot to us. Now we can breathe easily. It would’ve been all over for us had we lost them.
How do you see your match against Al Rayyan?
I would say it’s a game for everyone to enjoy. Al Rayyan are a strong side with top players. However, we will play to win though we’re expecting a hard fight. Games like this give more motivation to players.
How do you look at it from the competition point of view?
Al Rayyan players are very good with the ball, so we must be at our best if we’re to put it across them. One disadvantage they’ve is that they played one game in the AFC Champions League before our encounter and will play another after this.
Which Al Rayyan players will you be focusing more on?
For sure, Rodrigo Tabata has been playing with them for long. He’s very good at taking free-kicks and giving assists. Then, Sebastian Soria is a dangerous player. We need to be concentrating on containing these two players particularly.
How delightful can it be a match from the fans’ point of view?
It’s unofficially dubbed ‘fans’ derby’. Obviously so because Al Rayyan and Al Arabi have the most number of passionate supporters. I’m sure fans will enjoy this game more than anyone.
How much can Al Arabi count on fans’ support in terms of performance on the field?
Our fans came to the venue in large numbers especially for our last two matches and the results were there for everyone to see. Their presence gives more confidence to the players. No player would like to play in front of empty stands.
In which position do you think Al Arabi will finish this season?
We can definitely improve our ranking if we sustain the momentum. Nine more points are up for grabs. I believe we’ve the quality to win the remaining three matches. We can may be finish seventh. Why not?