Nadir Belhadj of Al Sadd poses with his wife after receiving the Best Player of the Year prize at the Qatarfootball awards yesterday. Centre picture shows Alain Dioko of Al Ahli reciveiving his trophy for most number of goals (22), while at right, Sami Trabelsi of Al Sailya receives the ‘Best Coach’ prize. Pictures: Anas Khalid and Noushad Thekkayil
By Joe Koraith/Doha
The hard work had been done, the yards put on the football pitch, the trophies won and safely tucked away into the cabinets. And now it was time to recognise the men who made all of that happen. Yesterday, at the Qatar National Convention Centre, Qatar Football Association felicitated the top performers of the recently concluded season.
The jerseys were swapped for sharply cut suits as the players, not having to worry about the 90 minutes of pressure, laughed and joked during a glitzy ceremony. It was an atmosphere of camaraderie as the winners were announced.
And the top honours of the day went to Al Sadd’s Nadir Belhadj and Al Sailiya coach Sami Trabelsi who walked away with the awards for the Best Player and Best Coach respectively. Belhadj has been an excellent stand-in captain for the majority of the season due to the injury to Raul Gonzalez.
“This is a very important award for me. But I wasn’t playing alone. I would like to thank my teammates for helping me get this award,” said Belhadj after receiving the award.
“We are in the Asian Champions League quarter-finals and we hope to continue till the end. This has been a difficult season for us. Many teams have improved a lot and that made it very tough for us. But my ambition is to enjoy more football and win more titles with Al Sadd. The club is like a second family to me,” he added.
Coach Trabelsi, who has managed to convert a team that was battling relegation last season to finishing fourth this time around, was the unanimous choice. “It is an honour to get this award. This award belongs to the entire team. This award is an encouragement for the club. This is just the beginning and we will continue on this path,” said Trabelsi.
When asked about why Arab coaches aren’t managing the top clubs in the world, Trabelsi gave a very straight answer. “In football diversity is important. But unfortunately in some places there are some doubts about Arab coaches. In some places the atmosphere for an Arab coach is not as well prepared as it is for other coaches. But I want to say that Arab coaches have the responsibility of proving their ability by continuing to do good work.”
Al Sailiya also walked away with the award for the Best Team Administration. It recognised the huge effort put by the management into bringing the club to the successful position it is in right now. “The role of the management is an important pillar in the game,” said QFA Vice President Saud Abdulaziz al-Mohannadi when presenting the award.
The top scorer of the season was already decided after Al Ahli’s Alain Dioko scored 22 goals this season. Qatar football legend Mansour Muftah was in for a surprise when he was called on stage to present the award to Dioko. QFA announced that the award will henceforth be called the Mansour Muftah award to honour the former skipper’s immense contribution to the game.
Dioko said that it was sheer hard work which got him this award. “Work, work and work. I have trained hard to reach this level. I am very glad to have achieved this tally but it wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates. I simply bring to a conclusion the huge effort put in by my teammates. That’s the job of a goalscorer,”said Dioko afterwards.
The best young player went to Ahli’s Ali Qadri who attributed his success to coach Milan Macala who was one of the nominees for the best coach award. “This is a motivation for me to give more for football and for my club. I am the youngest player in the team but my coach gave me the necessary confidence to do my best,” said Qadri.
“Young players need to be included in the team. This is the future for the Qatar keeping in mind the 2022 World Cup,” Sadd skipper Raul said before giving the award to Qadri.
In the other awards, Ahli skipper Meshal Abdullah was given a Special Recognition award for his performance this season. The Best Fans award too went to Ahli club. Al Waab walked away with a special award for the Best Team Management.
Football officials including QFA president Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani (second from right) and Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy secretary-general Hassan al-Thawadi (extreme right) pictured at the awards gala.
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