Al Arabi’s Iraqi defender Ahmed Ibrahim is one of the outstanding players in the QNB Stars League. He is one of the main pillars of the reputed Qatari club and put up an impressive display for his country at the recent Asian Cup in the UAE.
Ahead of Al Arabi’s much-awaited match against Al Rayyan in Week 16 of the QNB Stars League on 14th February, Ahmed spoke to QSL Online in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
How do you see your forthcoming game against Al Rayyan?
It’ll certainly be an exciting game. Al Rayyan and Al Arabi games are always strong and they’ve a great rivalry between them. It’s always a strong encounter between the players and fans.
Your expectations for this game?
It’s difficult to predict what can happen in football, but I hope that the result will be on our side. I also hope the technical level will be high, reflecting the name and reputation of the two teams and their fans.
Are Al Arabi able to win considering the changes made in the team?
The team is better and stronger now with the changes and addition of new players. As players, we’re working with the technical staff to reach the best form. This game is important because it’s the first match for our new coach and new players.
Do you expect that Al Arabi will improve position in the league table with the arrival of new players and coach?
This isn’t just an expectation, but it is a requirement for all players to move forward in the table. We had great preparations and our ambitions are higher now. We must improve position, to match the club’s reputation.
Your message to Al Arabi fans…
I hope our fans will be present in the remaining games and support the players, and I think it’s time for our fans to support us to the hilt.
What’s your target in the QNB Stars League this season?
We aspire to improve our position this season and prepare well for the next. I think the top-four spot will be a reasonable target for us.
Who’s the player you worry about in Al Rayyan?
Al Rayyan have many high-level players. We also have players with experience and a great level, so we don’t fear anyone, especially after the reinforcements. We’ll try hard to get a positive result in this match.
Your expectations for the competition in the league after the Asian Cup?
I expect that the remaining matches will be difficult for all teams, especially after the new decision that allows each club to recruit an Arab professional player along with the changes that’ve taken place in many clubs. All teams have their ambitions and targets, be it in the top, middle or bottom of the table.
What’s your assessment of the Asian Cup and what do you say about Qatar winning the championship?
I congratulate the Qatar team for making it big. Al Annabi deserved the crown after putting up a consistent performance right from the first match till the final game. Qatar have a tactically-sound coach and some very good young players who deserve appreciation and respect. They won against top Asian teams, so they really deserved to win the trophy.
Are you satisfied with the performance of Iraq, who exited in the Round of 16 after losing to Qatar?
Iraq are one of the top teams in Asia. We deserved to go far in the tournament. Round of 16 exit was certainly not in our thoughts. But this is football. That chapter is now closed and we must learn from our mistakes. We must improve the level and bring the smile back on the faces of our fans, whom we love a lot. I take this opportunity to thank them for their great support.