Al Khor attacking midfielder Soroush Hossein in an Exclusive Interview with QSL Online
Soroush Hossein is the livewire in QNB Stars League side Al Khor’s midfield. The Iranian attacking midfielder carries much expectations, even though he appears to be playing second fiddle to Brazilian Madson who plays in the same position, as The Knights look to improve their position in the second phase of the tournament.
Al Khor’s campaign saw many ups and downs in the league’s first phase. The results from the seven matches they played under Frenchman Laurent Banide did much damage to their fortunes. However, they made a sort of turnaround under his replacement, Tunisian Nassif Al Bayawi, in the remaining four games and currently stand eighth with 10 points as this season’s competition is halfway through.
In an exclusive interview with QSL Online during their training camp at the Aspire Zone (20th to 28th December), the 27-year-old, who has scored four goals from 11 matches, reflected on a wide range of topics.
Why did you choose Qatar in the first place?
Frankly speaking, I couldn’t earn money as a professional footballer during my two years of mandatory military service. So I wanted to be paid well while plying my trade at the professional level to support my family. I had told my parents to stop working when I joined Foolad at the age of 21 and that I would be meeting the family expenses.
I had many offers from some European countries, such as Belgium, Sweden, France and Russia. But after consulting with my friends here and weighing my options, I preferred Qatar.
How do you find your experience in the QNB Stars League so far?
It was a totally-new experience and it was for the first time that I was playing outside my country. I wanted to learn something new in my career. There’re many windows in Qatar if you want to prove yourself in football. And the Qatari society is very welcoming.
After joining Al Khor from Iran’s Persepolis at the start of the season, I found the quality of the game being played in this country is high. More importantly, the administrators, coaches, players and all those associated with football are keen to improve the game step by step.
How do you compare the game in Iran and Qatar?
For sure, the game is more tough in Iran in every sense. We had 18 teams in the first division a couple of years ago and now there’re 16. I’m proud to be a part of the title-winning Persepolis side last season. Some games are played in far-off cities and you must reach the venue two or three days before a match. The travelling time is more and sometimes you’ve to take long-distance buses.
That way, it’s much more convenient in Qatar. You save the travelling time and can prepare on home conditions. Overall, the comfort level is high.
Can you evaluate your performance in the first phase of league campaign?
We had five or six new players at the start of this season. The coach (Banide) was also new. He experimented with the side and we lost many valuable points that we could’ve won. He was too defensive. And we were unlucky too. I believe I played decently well in the first three games. I’m comfortable playing in the middle right behind the striker. But then, he wanted me to play on the left and right, and I fell out of favour with him.
I could score only one goal in seven matches under him, but netted thrice more from four games with Al Bayawi at the helm.
Also, we played the entire first phase without a proper striker and right-back. Even our captain Naif Al Buriki had to change his position in the defence.
What’s the difference you see in Al Bayawi?
There’s a sea change in our game and approach to the game under his tutelage. We all feel we’re improving after every match and we’ve started believing in ourselves. He wants us to stay with the ball and enjoy with the ball. He also wants us to remain relaxed. Personally, he gives me freedom to play my natural game.
How do you look forward to the competition’s second phase?
We want to regain the lost ground. We may’ve earned only 10 points thus far, but I don’t believe in numbers. I wish we get at least one point from each match. But one thing is sure. We’ll surprise many with our performances and results. We’ll fight for every point and are keen to finish in the top-six bracket. There isn’t a big difference between the fifth and eighth-placed teams as far as points (six) are concerned. It’s just a matter of two victories.
What’s the team ambience like at Al Khor?
When you’ve an understanding team management, the players tend to give off their best. That’s what happens at Al Khor. The present coach and Qatari players are very co-operative and they’ve a big heart. When my morale was low, my Qatari team-mates supported me to the hilt. Everybody knows how to play his role well. A coach like Al Bayawi can make them more confident.
What was your inspiration to take to the game?
No one in my family played football. I had a passion for it and was put in a training centre when I was seven years old. I then became the best Under-12 player in Iran and realised I could excel in the game. That very thought always gave me extra energy.
Finally, what would you like to tell your fans?
Our fans may not come to stadiums in large numbers, but they’re passionate to the core. I promise them that we won’t make them disappointed in the second phase. The camp at Aspire has revitalised us to give that extra push.