Gulf Times – DOHA, Morteza Mohamed has been the backbone of Al Sadd defence for two years now. The 25-year-old, a regular with the Iranian national team since 2015, has already won three tournaments (Qatar Cup and Emir’s Cup last season and Sheikh Jassim Cup this time) and is hungry for more.
In an Interview ahead of Al Sadd’s Qatar Clasico against Al Rayyan tomorrow, Morteza, who joined The Wolves in January, 2016, spoke about his stint in Qatar, the feeling of representing Sadd, his game and the high importance of Clasico.
How was your introduction to Qatar football?
I was playing for Tianjin Teda in China when Al Sadd spotted me. At that time, former coach Housseine Amouta saw me in action for Iran against Turkmenistan in a World Cup preliminary-round play-off and I had scored a goal. But by the time I was recruited, current coach Jesualdo Ferreira had taken charge.
How has been your stint with Al Sadd?
I was welcomed well, so took less time to adapt. As players, we respect each other. I’m also happy that a lot of youngsters are being groomed well from time to time at this club. I’m happy to have won three Cups. We almost bagged another, but lost out to erstwhile Lekhwiya on penalties in the 2015-16 season Emir’s Cup final.
How do you rate Al Sadd’s performance so far?
We are improving after every game. We had troubles initially with injures to many players and national team duties. But we managed to overcome all those and could keep the second position in standings, after leaders Al Duhail.
Al Sadd have conceded the least number of goals (16) among all teams in the QNB Stars League. And you had another good game against Qatar SC last week…
See, it’s a collective effort. I can’t do anything alone in the defence. The credit for having conceded the least goals must go to the team. All sides are extra charged-up when it comes to playing against Al Sadd and Qatar SC were no different. I believe we can still improve.
How is it playing under Ferreira?
He’s a much-travelled coach with vast experience. He’s like a teacher and father to us. Young talents are being nurtured well under him as well. And you can see the results.
Personally too, I’ve improved under him. I believe I’ve become a better defender, having started my career as a midfielder before shifting to the central defence on the persuasion of our national team coach Carlos Queiroz.
What’s your take on the Qatar Clasico?
Al Sadd and Al Rayyan are strong teams and I don’t see anything much to differentiate them competitively this season. Both have huge fan support. I hope everybody enjoys the game.
How do you prepare for Qatar Clasico?
We’re working hard as this match is like a final. We’re focused and motivated to take on Al Rayyan. The team that commits less mistakes will emerge as the winner.
We’ve a point to prove as we had lost the first-phase Qatar Clasico. But then, some of our players such as (Boualem) Khoukhi, (Jugurtha) Hamroun, Ibrahim Majed and (Baghdad) Bounedjah weren’t fully fit.
Which Rayyan player commands your respect?
I’ve big respect for all their players. Al Rayyan are a good unit under (Michael) Laudrup. We must bring out our best to get the better of them.
What would you like to tell Al Sadd fans?
I wish they’ll reach the venue in large numbers and keep supporting us. We’ll do our best on the field to please them.