The Yemeni national team coach and captain have thanked the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and the Qatar Football Association (QFA) for helping them to dream big, during troubled times in their country.
The war-torn nation are seeking qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates and are playing their home matches in the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup thanks to the QFA’s support.
Yemen opened their third round campaign in Group F with a 2-1 win against Tajikistan last week at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium, and ‘Al Ahmar’ celebrated the perfect start with a visit to the offices of the SC with captain Mohamed Ayash and coach Abraham Mebratu talking about their experiences.
“Learning about the advancing preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was a great experience for the team as it helped them to dream beyond 2019,” said Ethiopian-born Mebratu. “From now on, they will also dream about competing hard in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. I am sure this visit will make them work harder towards trying to realise their dreams.”
However, the 45-year-old is aware they need to take things one step at a time. “The immediate focus is to qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time ever in our history as one Yemen. If we manage to do it, Qatar would have played the biggest role in our achievement,” he said.
Meanwhile, his captain Ayash said the 2022 FIFA World Cup™ held special significance to the players. “We are thankful to the QFA for extending their full support here and to the SC for sharing with us in great detail the 2022 plans,” he said. “The visit to the SC was truly inspirational. It is the first ever World Cup in the Arab and Islamic world, and we feel the tournament will represent us to the world.
The 32-year-old goalkeeper continued: “Doha has been our home in every sense of the word. Qataris always encourage us and the hospitality makes us feel good during times of extreme stress back home. We are confident we can win all our home matches here.”
The two remaining home matches for Mebratu’s side are against the Philippines and Nepal in October this year and March 2018 respectively, and the coach will be counting on his exciting Brazil-bound 18-year-old striker Ahmed Al Sarori to extend his good form in Doha on both those occasions.
Al Sarori, who was instrumental for Yemen’s opening goal against Tajikistan, will soon depart to the homeland of ‘Jogo Bonito’ to ply his trade for Esporte Clube Tigres Do Brasil in Carioca Two, the second tier of the Rio state championship.
The die-hard Neymar fan believes the exposure in the homeland of the five-time FIFA World Cup™ winners will make him a better player. “Outwitting Brazilian defenders will be tough, they are so good even in lower leagues. But I have self-belief and will prove there that Yemen and the Arab world have football talent coming up.”
The youngster concluded: “I am confident of qualifying for the Asian Cup in 2019. I also have dreams to play in Qatar in 2022. I know it is tough because of the political situation at home but my dreams have no boundaries. I will make my homeland Yemen and second home Qatar proud of me one day.”