Barakat: We're ready for Ittihad
They call him in the arrow. Light yet lithe, his darting runs have pierced defences up and down the African continent. Now Ahly's Mohamed Barakat aims for a higher target against a side that know him so well. The 29-year-old spoke to FIFA.com ahead of the Egyptians side's opening clash with Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad at the FIFA Club World Championship TOYOTA Cup Japan 2005.
You played regularly against Ittihad Jeddah when you played in Saudi Arabia. Are you familiar with the Saudi team?
I guess so. I spent a time in the Saudi league playing for Ittihad's arch-rivals, Ahli Jeddah. The Saudi football culture is very close to the Egyptian one. Like Ahly, Ittihad have the best players in the country, players who helped their country reach the World Cup finals, and I'm convinced that our match against them will fascinating. The problem with Ittihad Jeddah is that they easily lose control especially if they concede an early goal and that's something we may try to work on.
Why did you leave Saudi Arabia especially after making a good reputation over there?
Because I received a better offer and as a professional player I should always look out for myself and my family. After a while I realised it was time to return home especially and Ahly offered me a good deal.
Your role in Ahly's continental success has been essential and you are a favorite to win the African award of best player in African club competitions, how do you feel about that?
If I win it would be great, but I honestly never think about these things or focus on them that much. My target is always to do a good job, lead my club to victory and help my team-mates score goals or just do it myself. Being nominated for such an award just proves that I'm doing a good job which I care about the most.
Can Ahly continue their run in Japan?
I hope so and I'm sure that with faith, confidence and persistence we can achieve some good results in Japan and maybe even win the trophy. Our main concern at the moment, though, is to beat Ittihad because I'm sure that winning will motivate us to carry on doing the good work against Sao Paulo.
Does making the FIFA Club World Championship compensate for Egypt missing out on a place at the FIFA World Cup?
It is great to be at a FIFA tournament, but there's nothing like going to the World Cup - now that would be the day! On the other hand, I'm sure that the FIFA Club World Championship will develop over the next years and maybe one day it will be as big as the World Cup. For now, I am happy to be one of the pioneers who took part in this competition.