Al Gharafa midfielder Vladimir Weiss in an Exclusive Interview with QSL Online.
The Weiss family in Slovakia holds a rare record. Three successive generations of footballers played at the highest levels and also represented their national teams. And all three go by the same names — Vladimir Weiss.
Well, we are talking about QNB Stars League side Al Gharafa’s midfielder Vladimir Weiss. His grandfather, father and himself played big-time football (the first two for erstwhile Czechoslovakia), a rarity in the world of football.
After being plagued by a knee injury last season, Weiss has reinvented himself this time and is presently Al Gharafa’s joint top-scorer with six goals, alongside Dutch star Wesley Sneijder.
Ahead of Al Gharafa’s high-profile QNB Stars League Week 14 match against Al Sadd on Sunday, 2nd December, Weiss spoke to QSL Online in an exclusive interview.
The 2018-19 season QNB Stars League is well into its second leg? How do you assess Al Gharafa’s and your own performance?
In a team game, what matters the most is the team. Everything else is secondary. We’ve had our ups and downs. We got some good results against strong teams and negative results against not-so-strong teams. Yet, we’re doing well and are in the sixth position.
Personally, I feel satisfied. I struggled a lot with the injury last season and trained individually in Slovakia and Doha in the pre-season besides the team training sessions. The injury happened exactly a year ago, on 30th November (my birthday). Now, I feel I’m back to my best and am doing what I love the most.
How do you rate your time with Al Gharafa?
Look, it has a background. It wasn’t easy to leave Europe, after playing for Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League, and join Al Duhail in 2014. I believe it was one of the best decisions taken by me. I had a good time there and we won many titles.
I was more happy when I joined Al Gharafa two-and-a-half seasons ago. Myself and my family are very comfortable in Qatar.
How is Al Gharafa’s team composition this season?
There aren’t many changes in the squad from last season. All overseas players stayed and the team is a good mix of youth and experience. Many youngsters have been graduating through our ranks. They’re graduating to the senior squad from time to time. It augurs well for the club’s future.
How do you find playing under French coach Christian Gourcuff?
Gourcuff is trying his best and we, the players, are also trying our best to help the team achieve its goals. He has a vision. He teaches us something different from his experience. He is for a balanced approach. He insists we concede less goals. And we’ve a lot of options upfront.
Moreover, he wants us to have the same motivation for every game. It’s true that we were a bit less motivated when we took on relatively weaker teams. Our defeat to Al Kharaitiyat in Week 7 was the best example.
What’re the targets set by Al Gharafa as well as Vladimir Weiss?
All of us are striving hard to help Al Gharafa finish at least in the fourth position, like we did last season. We also want to do well in the 2019 AFC Champions League. We’ve to first qualify for the group stage by winning the play-off. Then, we want to progress to the knockout stage.
Personally, I want to keep doing my best for the team. I want to contribute in a big way to help the club gain as many points as possible. I want to stay free of injuries throughout the season.
How do you look forward to the second-leg game against Al Sadd?
We brought out one of our best performances during the entire first leg in the match against Al Sadd that ended in a 1-1 draw. That gave us a lot of confidence. In fact, we were close to victory, but for the equaliser towards the end.
What’s the difference between Al Sadd and Al Gharafa?
There’re many differences between the teams. We know how strong they’re. Al Sadd have more experienced players which is a crucial factor in big games. They’ve players who have been playing together for long. They also have special players such as Xavi (Hernandez) even though he is out of action with an injury.
What do you think should Al Gharafa do to beat Al Sadd?
We’ve 50-50 chances. We’ve to do everything if we’re to beat Al Sadd. We’ve to be at our best. I feel we’ve to be fully focused for 90 minutes. Remember, we showed a lot of passion and quality in our first-leg match.
You recently announced that you wouldn’t play for the Slovakia national team any longer…
I’m only 29 and I’ve a lot of international football left in me. I've only temporarily stopped playing for my national team because of the differences of opinion with the present coach.
Al Gharafa are a big team with a lot of passionate supporters. How do you look at the fan factor?
I just thank them for the support they extended to me when I struggled to find form in my first season here and also last season when I missed most part with an injury. They remained patient. I get a lot of wishes from them on the social media. I wish they come to the stadiums more and more.