- Bahrain are flying excessive within the qualifiers for Qatar 2022
- Midfielder Abdulwahab Al Malood places that right down to the gamers’ expertise
- Meeting with IR Iran will likely be a particular one for him
Bahrain have twice come near qualifying for the FIFA World Cup™, reaching the intercontinental play-offs within the qualifiers for Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, dropping to Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand respectively.
The era that contested these two play-offs was a golden one for the nation, with the likes of Alaa Hubail, Ali Husein Baba and Mohamed Salmeen main the way in which. Today, greater than a decade on from their exploits, the Reds’ new breed are pushing for world finals qualification as soon as extra.
Bahrain at the moment lie second in Group C of the Asian qualifying competitors for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, having recorded two wins and three attracts of their 5 matches up to now. They have three extra video games forward of them of their bid to make it to the third spherical.
Their Portuguese coach Helio Sousa is banking on the gamers that gained the West Asian Football Federation Championship and the Arabian Gulf Cup in 2019 to finish the job and take Bahrain to the world finals for the primary time of their historical past. Among his most seasoned campaigners is veteran attacking midfielder Abdulwahab Al Malood, who’s showing in his third consecutive World Cup preliminaries.
Speaking completely to FIFA.com, he in contrast the present qualification push with Bahrain’s two earlier makes an attempt.
“We prepared really well for the preliminaries and we’re really motivated too, with a new, experienced and intelligent coach,” stated Al Malood. “We also have lots of ambition after winning the WAFF Championship and the Gulf Cup. In previous qualifying competitions, we lacked the experience we needed to take on the big teams.”
Bahrain tackle Cambodia of their subsequent match in Group C this coming Thursday. Four days later they meet IR Iran earlier than taking part in Hong Kong of their ultimate match within the part on 15 June.
Next Monday’s assembly with IR Iran will likely be a particular one for Al Malood, who made his FIFA World Cup qualifiers debut in opposition to the identical opponents in 2011. That match, a part of the Brazil 2014 preliminaries, led to a 1-1 draw.
Recalling that recreation and Bahrain’s 1-0 defeat of the Iranians on Matchday 4 in Group C, Al Malood stated: “I bear in mind the followers having a giant half to play within the 2011 recreation, however the Iranians got here again to attract. In the newest recreation between us, we managed to carry on to our lead due to the passion of the group and the expertise of the gamers.
“We’re now looking to kick on and win our next three matches. They’re all vital for us and we’ll be aiming to beat Iran again.”
Coach’s ambition rubbing off
Al Malood can be hoping to seek out the again of the online in these three video games, simply as he did in opposition to Philippines and Yemen within the qualifiers for Russia 2018, although it isn’t his essential goal, as he defined: “I look to score in every game I play, but the biggest thing for me is helping the team to win and making a contribution, whether it’s by scoring goals or providing assists.”
That crew spirit and confidence are the defining options of the present Bahrain line-up. Al Malood stated coach Sousa, who took up the job in March 2019, deserves reward for instilling these traits within the crew and for his work to date.
“The coach has given the players specific roles on the pitch,” stated Al Malood. “The most important thing is that he has a lot of confidence in the players, which is allowing us to perform to our best on the pitch. Sousa has a lot of ambition and that’s rubbed off on us.”
The first goal for Sousa and his gamers is to succeed in the third spherical of the Asian qualifiers and go one step additional than the era that reached two consecutive intercontinental play-offs. In their bid to make it to Qatar 2022, Bahrain are hoping it’s a case of third time fortunate.
“We want to finish off the job started by our predecessors and help hoist the flag of the Kingdom of Bahrain high. If we all pull together, we can fulfil our dream of reaching the World Cup.”