Al Sadd defender Hamed Ismail in an Exclusive Interview with QSL Online
Hamed Ismail has won all domestic titles in Qatar. Basically a right-back, he is a versatile player who can also play in the central defence and midfield, and that prompted Al Sadd to make him their first signing this season in the January transfer window.
Hamed’s darting runs along the flank often puts the rival defence in trouble. The former Qatar international represented Al Rayyan for several seasons and won a number of titles with them. He also lifted the Emir’s Cup and Qatar Cup with Al Sadd.
The tall player, who has also donned the colours of Al Arabi and the Qatar national team, was recalled by Al Sadd from Al Arabi this winter till the end of this season in a bid to strengthen their defence.
In an exclusive interview with QSL Online ahead of Al Sadd’s Qatar Cup semifinal against Al Rayyan, Hamed spoke about various topics. Excerpts:
First of all, how do you review Al Sadd’s campaign in the QNB Stars League?
Overall, we’re happy that we finished as the runners-up despite the fact that we faced many problems in the first phase due to injuries and national-team duties. Eight players moved out of the club, while only (Boualem) Khoukhi and Yasser (Abubacker) came in.
Did you expect to win the QNB Stars League title?
We were always in the race. I don’t believe that our defeat to Al Duhail in the second phase changed things altogether. Al Duhail didn’t lose a game and it was hard to catch up with them. And their players were playing together for so long.
How do you look forward to the Qatar Cup semifinal against Al Rayyan?
I would rather call it a final because whenever Al Sadd play Al Rayyan, be it in the league or a cup tournament, it’s like a final for obvious reasons.
What makes your clash with Al Rayyan so special?
The Qatar Cup is an important title for us players and also for fans. We’ve had time to recover and the team is set. We’ve to fight to reach the final and we hope to do well in the semifinal.
How prepared are you to face Al Rayyan this time?
Look, the honours were shared in the Qatar Clasico, with Al Rayyan winning in the first phase and Al Sadd winning the second. We were ready for Al Rayyan the second time and that reflected on the result. So are we now.
What’re the preparations like?
Al Rayyan are always tricky opponents. We’ve to be careful even though they’re not in the form that they were in the first half of the season. But then, who expected AS Roma to eliminate powerful Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal recently?
How do you rate the Al Rayyan team?
They’re a strong team. We’re good too. We respect them. This is a knockout match and we’ve to be on top of our game. Personally, I’m sad their top scorer (Abderrazaq) Hamdallah will miss the game due to his ankle injury. He deserved to play in the Qatar Cup. I hope he gets well soon.
How do you see the match from the fans’ point of view?
It goes without saying Al Sadd and Al Rayyan enjoy a lot of support from the fans, who’re passionate about the teams’ performances. Our technical and medical staff are doing a good job and we hope to delight our fans in the Qatar Cup.
What’s the most memorable moment in your career?
Winning the Qatar Stars League with Al Rayyan in the 2015-16 season tops my memories, for I had won all other titles in Qatar football. Al Rayyan are the team with whom I won all domestic titles.
Now that you’re back in Al Sadd, what’re your ambitions?
I started at Al Sadd and I want to end my career here. It’s a good feeling to represent Al Sadd. It’s also a good feeling that I’m an important player for them. I’ll try to maintain my form and shape, and stay focused.
How do you look at Al Sadd’s AFC Champions League campaign?
It has been a hard way, but we’re happy to have progressed to the Round of 16. With luck, we can go further in this year’s AFC Champions League.