Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Loan move freshens Matar

Al Wahda's Ismail Matar had only a brief loan stint with the Qatari club Al Sadd in May, but it was an eye-opener in many ways.

Al Wahda's Ismail Matar had only a brief loan stint with the Qatari club Al Sadd in May, but it was an eye-opener in many ways. The two games in the Crown Prince Cup in Qatar gave the UAE's leading player his first glimpse of "real professionalism" and reignited his desire to challenge himself outside his own country.

"It was a great experience," says the 26-year-old. "I saw real professionalism there and I believe this experience will be good for me. Though it was just a short visit, I benefited a lot, learning about many things, about many aspects of the game that I was not aware of. "I hope I can share my experience here and tell people about what I saw in Qatar, the way they organise their games and how they deal with their players."

In his first game, Matar came off the bench in the first-half with his team a man short and trailing Al Ahli 2-0. The situation brought the best out of the diminutive Emirati as he helped his side claw back the deficit with an assist and a fine strike. The match ended 3-3 before Sadd triumphed in the penalty shootout. Matar delighted his new fans and said the challenge of proving himself all over again spurred him on.

"When you are playing in your own country, you are famous.You are a big star because you have already proven yourself," he said. "Everybody knows the quality you have and there is nothing left to prove. So sometimes you will play good, sometimes you will play bad. But when you play in another country, you have to prove yourself all over again. "That is the challenge; you need that challenge to keep improving. They have hired you not because you are a big name, but because you are a good player and you want to prove them right."

There has never been any doubt about Matar's talent since his arrival on the international stage at the 2003 World Youth Championship in the UAE. The tournament had a glittering array of future stars like Javier Mascherano, Carlos Tevez, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Garcia and Nilmar, yet Matar overshadowed them and walked away with the player of the tournament award. The Golden Ball generated plenty of interest for Matar and some great offers, but he has remained in the UAE while players like Tevez and Iniesta blazed their way to fame. Matar's fate found sympathy from former UAE coach Dominique Bathenay.

"When I look at the other stars in Europe at the moment, I feel sorry that Matar is not getting the chance to be playing there and proving his class," said the Frenchman. arizvi@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Glenn Maxwell's knock that followed ensured Brendon McCullum's knock went in vain after his explosive half-century took Chennai Super Kings past the 200-mark. Ravindranath K / The National

All is well with Punjab as Maxwell and Miller seal win against Chennai

The Australian missed out on a century but his 95 runs, along with Miller's unbeaten half-century, ensured Kings XI scaled a mighty peak of a target in a hot first game of Abu Dhabi's double-header.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet protests during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England, on March 15, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

Sunderland going out of Premier League with a grumble

Northeast club have underwhelmed during seven-year stay in the top flight

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 At 105 kg, Gabrielle Garcia has dominated the world circuit and loves many things about being in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Garcia seeks fresh challenge in MMA after her jiu-jitsu domination

Brazilian prides being a lioness in the sport but feels she can shed 25kg weight to pursue her MMA debut aspirations.

 England's Jonathan Trott hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy semi final match against South Africa at The Oval cricket ground, London June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

England’s Jonathan Trott sidelined with stress-related illness again

Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from professional cricket because of his stress-related illness as England and Wales Cricket Board and Warwickshire confirmed he will stop playing with immediate effect.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National