Ali Asad: Experience will be key for Qatar in FIFA World Cup 2022
Doha: Qatar midfielder Ali Asad believes that experience and an inventory of skills will be his assets as he aspires to be an ‘Al Annabi’ mainstay during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on his home soil.
Talking exclusively to www.sc.qa ahead of facing Asia’s top-ranked team Iran in Thursday’s FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Asian Qualifiers, the 24-year-old Al Sadd player called the game at the home of his club “one of the most important in my career” and added that he is prepared for even bigger occasions that will beckon in the future.
“The 2018 FIFA World Cup could be the last for some of my teammates if we qualify, but I have age on my side and can play in front of my countrymen in the dream-come-true tournament in 2022,” said Asad, who has scored 10 international goals in 40 appearances.
“Everyone in the Qatar Football Association and Aspire Academy are doing their best to prepare a good team for 2022 – which should contain a mixture of youth and experience. I will be 28 then, which is when midfielders peak. As one of the experienced players in the squad, I will take on more responsibility and guide the youngsters.”
Asad sees the fixtures against Iran and then Uzbekistan (on March 28) as stepping stones towards showcasing Qatar as a fast-improving Asian side. He said: “We will compete hard against Iran. We played well in Tehran in September and lost only because of a goalkeeping error at the death.
The attacking midfielder shed some light on Qatar’s tactics ahead of the game. “We will attack, as we need at least four points from the next two games to remain in contention for World Cup qualification. A win at home is easier to achieve, even if the opponents are Iran, than claiming three points in Tashkent,” he said.
Asad hopes that he can replicate his form from the most recent home qualifier played by Jorge Fossati’s side. “I am happy to have contributed significantly in the win against Syria in October,” said the man who is equally comfortable manning the central midfield and the left wing.
“Even more satisfying was that the performance came after I had not started against Uzbekistan in Doha in September, and then I missed out totally against South Korea, both due to tactical reasons. External circumstances affected our performance during the draw in China in November, but I am now focused for the immediate challenges ahead.”
The bigger challenge, Asad recognises, lies in surprising the world’s best teams in five years’ time in Qatar. And he says he has given some thought to the nature of his preparations.
“I would like to play in the English Premier League after 2018,” said the man noted for his ball control and passing. “I have the skills to feature in the starting 11 of many English sides and would like to test myself out against top-quality European sides before 2022. The exposure will make me a better player in time for the biggest event that my country has ever hosted.”