Fahad Al Abdulrahman: ‘We want to do something important in 2022’
Fahad Al Abdulrahman wears the number 3 shirt at KAS Eupen. After helping his side win promotion to the first division last season, the 21-year-old Qatari defender is starting to make a name for himself in Belgium’s top flight with plenty of energy and determination.
Al Abdulrahman’s journey to European football started at the Aspire Academy in Doha, and has seen him win the Asian Football Confederation Under-19 Championship with Qatar in 2014 and play in a FIFA U-20 World Cup for his country. Now the skillful right-back says he is working hard each day with the long-term objective to “do something important” at his home FIFA World Cup™ in 2022.
“When you play against big clubs like Club Brugge,Anderlechtor Standard de Liège who have been in the Champions League you are excited as a player, and you do your best to show your talent and help your team to win,” Al Abdulrahman told www.sc.qa.
“When we played in the second division, the level was already high, but this year in the first division there is even more pressure in every game. The stands are full of supporters and when people see you play well and see that the team needs you; that is a great feeling.”
It has not been an easy journey to the first team for this Qatari youngster. Al Abdulrahman signed for KAS Eupen in November 2013, and initially found it challenging to adapt to European football.
“At first it was difficult to play in the first team. In the first two years I was on the bench and with the reserve team a lot, but it was important for me to get more experience. It was a better level, they played faster and the setup was very professional. I trained hard every day to try and learn something new each day. Now I am playing very well in the first team and this experience will help me in the future for both my club and my country.”
Al Abulrahman, who is a lifelong supporter of Al Sadd Sports Club in Doha – a club he joined at the age of eight – went through the ranks of the Aspire Academy from 13 onwards. He went on to become an important member of the Qatar Under-19 team that won the Asian title in Myanmar in 2014, and represented his side at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand the following year.
“I believe Aspire Academy is the best in the world at what it does, with the best coaches and the top teams coming to play and train there. This helped me a lot when I made the jump to European football, because I was able to draw on the experience gained at Aspire, both on and off the pitch.”
While Al Abdulrahman has not been part of the current Qatar squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifiers, he says he will be ready whenever needed and is looking towards 2022 for inspiration.
“My focus is on Eupen at the moment and to do my best for the team. Any time my national team wants me, I will be very happy. It is a goal I am working very hard for. Of course we Qatari players in Europe try to do our best, to let European players know that Qatar has good players who can compete with the players here. We don’t just want to host 2022, we want to do something important. I believe we are on a good path and we will be ready. Of course Qatar 2022 is a big inspiration for us, to play a World Cup in your country is the biggest thing possible. We will show the world that we have not only nice buildings, great stadiums like Lusail, Khalifa or Al Rayyan, but also a good national team.”
With a new generation of Qatari youngsters playing at European clubs, Al Abdulrahman believes his former Eupen team-mate and close friend Akram Afif will also be a big success in Spain’s La Liga at Sporting Gijón.
“I speak with Akram every day, and I know he will be successful in Spanish football with the great talent he has. I remind him that he has to take his chance, as we did at Eupen where we started on the bench and then became first team regulars. With a bit of time everybody will see what he can do in Spain.”
For Al Abdulrahman, the immediate aim is to help his Belgian team continue to enjoy top flight football.
“We want to remain in Division 1, we are playing every game at 100 % and, if we get a bit more than that, then that is a bonus. For me, the target is to succeed here. Then we will see what happens at the end of the season.”
When asked which team he most admires in European football, Al Abdulrahman concludes with a smile: “My first team in Europe is Eupen. The second team I really like is Real Madrid.”