Al Gharafa defender Almahdi Ali in an Exclusive Interview with QSL Online


‘We can still finish in the top four’
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Al Gharafa defender Almahdi Ali, in an exclusive interview, spoke to QSL Online on various topics ahead of their QNB Stars League Week 12 away game against Al Ahli on Friday, 12th January. He also spoke about their new signing and Dutch star Wesley Sneijder.

Almahdi started off by admitting that the match against Al Ahli would be difficulty especially since it comes after a long gap and at the start of second phase of league competition. He said it was a foregone conclusion that both mid-table sides would go all out for a win and bag full points to get themselves a strong start to the second half of the season.

“All these factors make me admit how tough the encounter will be and no one can predict the result,” said Almahdi.

Al Gharafa are seventh in the standings with 11 points, only three behind Al Ahli who are sixth. Their first-phase match had ended in a 1-1 draw.

Al Mahdi said Al Gharafa had a slight advantage over Al Ahli.

“Both teams have quality players. In my opinion, the team having more ball possession and making less mistakes will win the game. We’ve many distinguished players in our ranks and, with more harmony and team spirit, we can achieve a positive result,” he said.

Both sides go into the game under new coaches. Al Gharafa replaced Frenchman Jean Fernandez with Turk Bulent Uygun, who has previously coached Umm Salal for long, while Al Ahli now rely on their youth team coach George Jorge following the resignation of fellow-Spaniard Joaquin Caparros due to personal reasons.

Almahdi pointed out the fact that, with a new coach at the helm, the players were more excited and motivated, and are ready to play to their full potential.

“We truly aim at changing the team’s image in the league and improving our position in the table,” he said.

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The player gave his takes on Al Gharafa’s performance in the first phase and his expectations from the second.

“Definitely, there’s a huge difference between the first and second phase mainly because of the weather factor. We’re very keen to improve our seventh place, which belittles Al Gharafa’s reputation and history,” he said.

He commented on Sneijder joining the side, “There’s no doubt that he’s a big star with huge experience and credentials. I believe Al Gharafa needed such a big name in the team. It’s also a great opportunity for young players to benefit from his expertise. I’m lucky to be playing alongside a player of huge repute such as Sneijder.”

Almahdi wished his team-mates good luck and hoped every one of them would contribute to the team’s cause immensely.

The 25-year-old spoke about Al Gharafa’s chances of winning the QNB Stars League title.

“It’s very difficult. The points we lost during the first phase made things tough for us. However, we still hope to be among the top-four teams. Also, we hope to beat Uzbek side Pakhtakor in the AFC Champions league play-off and qualify for the tournament proper. The QSL Cup triumph has further motivated us,” he concluded.