Manama: Bahrain have twice come near qualifying for the FIFA World Cup™, reaching the intercontinental playoffs within the qualifiers for Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, dropping to Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand respectively.
The technology that contested these two playoffs was a golden one for the nation, with the likes of Alaa Hubail, Ali Husein Baba and Mohamed Salmeen main the best way. At present, greater than a decade on from their exploits, the Reds’ new breed are pushing for world finals qualification as soon as extra.
Bahrain presently lie second in Group C of the Asian qualifying competitors for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™, having recorded two wins and three attracts of their 5 matches to this point. They’ve 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 Soccer Federation Championship and the Gulf Cup in 2019 to finish the job and take Bahrain to the world Finals for the primary time of their historical past. Amongst his most seasoned campaigners is veteran attacking midfielder Abdulwahab Al Malood, who’s showing in his third consecutive World Cup preliminaries.
Talking solely to FIFA.com, he in contrast the present qualification push with Bahrain’s two earlier makes an attempt.
“We ready rather well for the preliminaries and we’re actually motivated too, with a brand new, skilled and clever coach,” mentioned Al Malood. “We even have plenty of ambition after successful the WAFF Championship and the Gulf Cup. In earlier qualifying competitions, we lacked the expertise we wanted to tackle the large groups.”
Bahrain tackle Cambodia of their subsequent match in Group C on Thursday. 4 days later they meet Islamic Republic of Iran earlier than enjoying Hong Kong of their closing match on June 15.
Subsequent Monday’s assembly with Iran might 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, resulted in a 1-1 draw.
Recalling that recreation and Bahrain’s 1-0 defeat of the Iranians on Matchday 4 in Group C, Al Malood mentioned: “I bear in mind the followers having an enormous half to play within the 2011 recreation, however the Iranians got here again to attract. Within the newest recreation between us, we managed to carry on to our lead because of the passion of the gang and the expertise of the gamers.
“We’re now seeking to kick on and win our subsequent three matches. They’re all very important for us and we’ll be aiming to beat Iran once more.”
Al Malood can be hoping to search out the again of the web in these three video games, simply as he did in opposition to Philippines and Yemen within the qualifiers for Russia 2018, although it’s not his important goal, as he defined: “I look to attain in each recreation I play, however the greatest factor for me helps the crew to win and making a contribution, whether or not it’s by scoring targets or offering assists.”
That crew spirit and confidence are the defining options of the present Bahrain line-up. Al Malood mentioned 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 gamers particular roles on the pitch,” mentioned Al Malood. “Crucial factor is that he has a variety of confidence within the gamers, which is permitting us to carry out to our greatest on the pitch. Sousa has a variety of ambition and that’s rubbed off on us.”
The primary goal for Sousa and his gamers is to succeed in the third spherical of the Asian Qualifiers and go one step additional than the technology that reached two consecutive intercontinental playoffs. Of their bid to make it to Qatar 2022, Bahrain are hoping it’s a case of third time fortunate.
“We wish to end off the job began by our predecessors and assist hoist the flag of the Kingdom of Bahrain excessive. If all of us pull collectively, we will fulfil our dream of reaching the World Cup.”
Sources: FIFA, AFC