After a torrid time last year at Egypt’s Al Ahly, Lebanese striker Mohamad Ghaddar is enjoying a new lease of life with Syrian outfit Teshrin, where he is hoping to rediscover the form that made him one of the most feared marksmen in his homeland.
In an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, Ghaddar spoke about his time with the Egyptian giants, his return to form and his hopes for the future with Teshrin.
A promising beginning
Mohamad Ghaddar started out with Al Nijmeh in 1998 as an ambitious 14-year-old. After graduating from the youth set-up, he made his debut two years later and was a member of the squad that claimed the 2000 Lebanese league title, the club’s first for over 20 years.
The following season Ghaddar established himself as regular first-team player and began to make his name. Over the course of the decade, he would go on to claim another four league titles and pick up successive league top-scorer’ awards, all the time cementing his reputation as one of his Lebanon’s finest strikers.
Deciding the time was right for a new challenge, Ghaddar then signed for Bahraini outfit Al Shabab. And while his sojourn there would be short, his five goals in six games at the tail end of the 2009/10 season helped the club stave off relegation to the second division. Asked about his brief spell in Bahrain, Ghaddar said, “The Bahraini league is very similar to the Lebanese one, with the main difference being the financial clout of the clubs. However, I believe the small crowds there detract from the league, just as they do in Lebanon.”
The 6’2 forward also touched on his original decision to turn professional. “There’s a huge difference between the amateur and professional game. In the latter the player feels he has made it in football, which in turn helps his development and self-confidence.”
After his brief stay in the Gulf, Ghaddar earned a high profile move to Al Ahly, becoming the first Lebanese player to sign for the Egyptian giants. However, the dream move soon turned sour when the 26-year-old was released by the club after just six months and a handful of appearances.
“In truth I didn’t get a proper chance at Al Ahly – the opportunities I got there weren’t enough for a professional player. I also think the real reason for my loss of form lay with previous coach Hossam al-Badry, who declined to use me even though the team were missing several players.”
Despite his difficulties in Egypt, the player has some good memories of his time there and only good things to say about the club. “The time I spent with Al Ahly was absolutely fantastic. They’re not only huge in Egypt and Africa, but a force on the world stage as well. Al Ahly are big in every respect, from the administration and players to the size of the crowds, and I’m immensely proud to have played for a club like them.”
Fresh challenge and return to form
While some experts wondered how badly Ghaddar would be affected by the Egyptian experience, the player proved his pedigree by quickly making an impact with Teshrin after moving there at the start of the year. Although he failed to score in his first three outings in the Syrian league, he put that right by netting four times in his next four games, including the winner in last Friday’s 1-0 victory over Al Futowa.
When quizzed about his return to form, Ghaddar said, “It’s mainly down to this great chance I’ve been given. It’s given a boost to my self-confidence, which is turn has got the goals flowing again.” The Lebanese international also paid tribute to the quality of football in his new home, saying, “The Syrian league is very strong and attracts big crowds as well as good professionals. Moreover the financial rewards for clubs are massive and, just like in Egypt, the large number of players ensures a high degree of competiveness.”
Ghaddar concluded the interview by reaffirming his desire to succeed in the yellow and red of Teshrin. “My goal is to help the club to compete in the league and, with my return to form and fitness, help Teshrin win its first league championship since 1997.”