In many walks of life, achievement whets the appetite for further success. Football is no exception, as Mohammed Noor will testify.
Now, having enjoyed a highly prosperous 2009 thus far for Al Ittihad, the Saudi Arabia captain wants to transfer his club form on to the international stage and help his country beat Bahrain, who they will meet in the first leg of a play-off on 5 September. The winners of this tie will earn the right to face New Zealand for a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Noor won his sixth domestic league title with Al Ittihad in April, before steering the Jeddah giants into the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League last month. This helped the 31-year-old, dubbed 'The Saudi Patrick Vieira', regain his place in the national team set-up.
Despite representing Saudi Arabia at the previous two FIFA World Cups, Noor had not played in South Africa 2010 qualifying until a return to the side in February for a meeting with Korea DPR. And although the Green Falcons lost 1-0, the veteran midfielder was handed the captain's armband by Jose Peseiro for their next outing against Iran. The Portuguese coach's decision was justified when Noor employed his ability to run a game and leadership to inspire a comeback victory.
Noor went on to skipper the side to a 3-2 win at home to United Arab Emirates, and helped them to successive goalless draws with Korea Republic and Korea DPR, the eventual Group 2 winners and runners-up respectively - results which proved enough to seal their place in the Asian Zone play-off.
"We have a lot of players with good experience at international level, and Noor is one of those who can deliver our messages to the players," said Peseiro.
Noor is now confident Saudi Arabia can make it to their fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup. "We will prove we are still a team to be reckoned with in Asia," he said. "We will do our utmost to bring joy back to the fans. We are looking forward to playing in the World Cup."