Al Motawa aiming high with Al Nasr
© AFP

Kuwaiti international striker Badr Al Motawa is making his mark with Saudi Arabian giants Al Nasr after a loan move from homeland side Al Qadissiyah earlier this year.

As well as helping Al Qadissiyah to league and Emir Cup success in 2010, Al Motawa had a year to remember with the national team, netting no fewer than 12 goals. If that were not impressive enough, he also played a key role in Kuwait winning their tenth Gulf Cup of Nations title last December, a tournament in which he finished top-scorer.

The 26-year-old has wasted no time settling in at Al Nasr, where he scored three times in his first five games in the national league, and also found the target against Pakhtakor in the Riyadh side’s first outing in this year’s AFC Champions League.

Al Motawa came through the youth ranks at Al Qadissiyah before breaking into the first team back in 2003, when he also earned his first full cap with the national team. At the AFC Asian Cup the following year, he scored twice in the team’s group-stage win over United Arab Emirates to consolidate his position as first-choice striker.

The 5’9” front-man continued to put in excellent performances for club and country, never more so than in 2006, when he netted 40 goals for Al Qadissiyah in all competitions. He also helped his side reach the semi-finals of that year’s  Champions League and was nominated for the 2006 AFC Player of the Year award.

And though he would have to settle for second place behind Qatar’s Khalfan Ibrahim, he said of the coveted award: “This is a great honour for any Kuwaiti player and something that will make me strive even harder to meet the expectations of Kuwaiti fans. It is also an incentive for my colleagues and I to perform well for club and country and to continue our quest to reach the highest level.”

It’s an honour for any Arab or Gulf player to represent Al Nasr in the Saudi league.
Badr Al Motawa, Al Nasr striker.

Al Motawa proved as good as his word, and four years later he could claim to have enjoyed “the best year” of his career. “2010 will remain forever in my mind and in the minds of all Kuwaiti people,” he said.

“We started the year by qualifying for the Asian Cup for the first time in a decade, and then we won the West Asian Cup at our first attempt. Most importantly though, we fulfilled the dreams of Kuwaiti fans by winning our tenth Gulf Cup and our first for 12 years,” he explained.

Last year also saw Al Motawa go to Malaga for a week-long trial. And even though the Spanish club did not retain his services, the sharpshooter underlined his professionalism with a series of wonderful performances on his return to Al Qadissiyah.

Unfortunately, Kuwait were unable to build on a great 2010 at this year’s Asian Cup, where they lost all three of their group games to fall at the first hurdle. Though scant consolation, Al Motawa at least managed to score his side’s only goal at the event, in the 2-1 reverse to Uzbekistan.  

Speaking of his side’s disappointment at Qatar 2011, the player had this to say: “As a team we improved when Goran Tufegdzic took the helm (in 2009). We performed well before the players’ busy schedule took its toll. Some of the younger less experienced players also had trouble handling the pressure.”

New challenges        
Despite that setback in Qatar, Al Nasr were sufficiently confident in Al Motawa to bring him to the Saudi capital on a six-month loan shortly afterwards. A popular figure with his new team-mates, the striker quickly won over the fans with his clinical finishing in his first months in the Kingdom.

“Al Nasr are a big club and one that have had a lot of success. They also have a huge following. It’s an honour for any Arab or Gulf player to represent Al Nasr in the Saudi league. It’s one of the best national championships is the Arab world, especially in terms of derbies, big games and the crowds at the stadiums,” the player said of his move to the capital side.

For Al Motawa, the immediate goal will be to help Al Nasr progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League, starting this Tuesday, when they take on Qatari outfit Al Sadd.

“Every player wants to participate in the Champions League, a tournament I tasted once before with Al Qadissiyah, when we went a long way. I hope to be able to emulate that feat with Al Nasr so as to achieve our goals and make the fans happy,” he said.

Given his unquestionable talent and impressive pedigree, it would come as no surprise to see Al Nasr and their in-form striker gunning for glory in the latter stages of this year’s competition.