Al Rayyan midfielder Abdulaziz Hatem in an exclusive interview with qsl.qa ahead of their Qatar Clasico against Al Sadd


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Abdulaziz Hatem has been a prominent presence in Qatar football for many years now. The midfielder has also been a key player in the Qatar national team and was a part of the famous Asian Cup-winning squad early this year.

Abdulaziz, who switched to Al Rayyan from Al Gharafa at the start of this season, underlined his credentials by scoring two goals in Al Rayyan’s 3-1 victory over Al Ahli in the fifth round of 2019-20 QNB Stars League last week.

Ahead of Al Rayyan’s high-voltage match against Al Sadd, dubbed the ‘Qatar Clasico’, in Week 6 of the QNB Stars League on Saturday, 5th October, Abdulaziz spoke to qsl.qa in an exclusive interview.

You’re representing a new team in Al Rayyan. How is it like?

We’ve almost a new team. We didn’t have a strong start, but Al Rayyan are moving in the right direction. The management is trying to build a strong team as before.

What difference do you find in your game in a new jersey?

There isn’t much difference in my game. This season is much better in terms of the standard of competition. All clubs have strong squads and are staying motivated. Al Rayyan are a big team and playing for them gives me more motivation. It’s nice to represent Al Rayyan.

You’ve been in good form, scoring three goals so far…

Of course, when you score goals, that gives a special feeling. Also, now I feel like my Al Arabi days when I represented them from 2007 till 2015. I’m a midfielder, so I score or may not score. In Al Rayyan, I’m playing more in the front, like what I do when I play for the Qatar national team. In Al Gharafa, I had a more defensive role to play in the midfield.

How do you see your first ‘Qatar Clasico’ game against Al Sadd?

It’s a big occasion. The ‘Qatar Clasico’ has been an amazing experience for the last few years. I look forward to it. It’s an extra motivation.

The match between Al Sadd and Al Rayyan has a special attraction...

They both are traditionally big teams and almost at the same level. Both have had ups and downs. Al Sadd have won more trophies, but Al Rayyan have always brought out their best and have a strong record in Clasico. Both teams have outstanding players.

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What’re the strengths and weaknesses of Al Rayyan?

We’re getting better after each game. We need more time to gel well even though the players know each other. And we’ve a new coach (Diego Aguirre). Our professional players Lee Jae-Ik, Yacine Brahimi and Gabriel Mercado couldn’t join the squad early, so it took time for us to settle into our stride. 

Will the weight of expectations favour more-experienced side Al Sadd?

Al Sadd are leading the table and they are high on confidence. It’s normal. Moreover, they have had a good run in the AFC Champions League. However, when it comes to ‘Qatar Clasico’, form and shape don’t matter much. We’ll give off our best.

What result are you expecting for this match?

I don’t predict the result. But I can assure you that it’ll be an open game. We need three points.

Who’re the players you think will play key roles in this game?

From Al Rayyan, all players are ready for the game. Brahimi is one player who has the ability to make a big difference. On Al Sadd’s part, all their players are dangerous. I pick out Akram Afif as the player who can make a considerable difference.

What’s your message to Al Rayyan’s ardent and traditional fans?

We’ve started to win and what more do our passionate fans want. We’re playing the ‘Qatar Clasico’ and they’ve more reasons to come to the stadium. We need their support more for this match and this is a good opportunity for them to show their strength for one more time.