Alexander Melki played his role by holding the Al Khor defence together as they retained their berth in the 2019-20 season QNB Stars League after eventually finishing 10th.
The 26-year-old is the only Lebanese player to have plied his trade in Qatar in the 2018-19 QNB Stars League, having joined The Knights in the January transfer window.
In an exclusive interview with QSL Online, Alexander, who also holds Swedish citizenship, throws light on a wide range of topics.
How did you find your short stint in Qatar, having played only a few matches for Al Khor in 2019?
It hasn’t been anything but good. It was easy to adapt quickly. Everything was very professional and serious, and that made things easier for me.
How do you assess football in Qatar in general and QNB Stars League in particular?
Football in Qatar is at a high level. It’s very professional when it comes to everything revolving around the game. The QNB Stars League has good teams and players.
What made you sign for Al Khor in Qatar?
I didn’t know much about the league competition in Qatar. But when I was told about the interest in me, I started checking out how the country and the league were. I like challenges and signing for Al Khor was a real challenge. So two days after I got home following Lebanon’s campaign in the Asian Cup in January this year, I came to Qatar. After seeing the country and visiting the Al Khor club, I felt it would be the right decision to join them.
How has your experience been with Al Khor?
Right from the first day, they made it easy for me to adapt at the club and focus on football. That gave me a familiar feeling. The staff have been working at the club for a long time and also with the players. You find that everyone is passionate about the club.
How much pressure did you feel individually and collectively as a team when Al Khor fought to avoid relegation?
Immediately after joining the club, I realised that it’s very important for Al Khor to stay in the league. Of course, I felt the pressure to try to help the club survive. I did my best to help the team. It meant a lot to the team management. Each match was like a final and every ball was important. But it’s always more fun to play for something than to play for nothing.
Did you firmly believe that Al Khor would escape from relegation?
Yes, absolutely. I would never have signed for Al Khor had it not been a team with potential.
Don’t you think a reputed team like Al Khor shouldn’t have left it late in order to ensure their stay in top flight?
Definitely yes. But sometimes, it just doesn’t work due to various reasons. The most important thing is that we managed to stay in the First Division. Al Khor can build on that in the coming season.
Do you believe that Al Khor beating Al Kharaitiyat in Week 20 was the turning point?
Every match was very important for us. Of course, the victory over Al Kharaitiyat made us believe that we wouldn’t get relegated.
What was the role coach Omar Najhi played for the team?
Coach Omar has worked in the club for long and knows the players well. That made it less complicated. He brought the best out of the players and helped them display their full potential. He laid a ground that was important for the team now and which one can build on in the future.
You’re the only Lebanese player in Qatar presently. Not many are coming from your country…
Yes. But I don’t know why Lebanese players aren’t coming forward to play in Qatar. May be, I can open doors for more of my countrymen to do so.
You’ve played for Sweden at the youth level. How was that experience?
It was a good experience, I got to learn a lot. I got my fighting mentality from Sweden and the technique part from Lebanon.
What’re the terms of your contract with Al Khor like?
My contract ends after next month (May). I’ll see what the future holds for me.
How do you look forward to the new season?
I like Qatar and enjoy very well in Al Khor. We’ll see what happens next season.
What’s your dream/ambition in your playing career?
It has always been my dream to play in the big leagues in Europe. But I love to play football and right now I really enjoy playing and football is really fun. That’s the most important thing for me. Then, you never know where you end up.
What’re your takes on the Middle East’s first FIFA World Cup which Qatar will host in 2022?
Qatar will be a good host for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This country has the right conditions and I believe it’ll organise a highly-successful World Cup. The arenas being constructed are amazing as well.