The name of versatile Bahraini midfielder Mahmood Abdulrahman may not be well known in many parts of the world but Uzbekistan fans certainly remember it with regret after he scored the winning goal in both matches between the two nations in the Asian qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Bahraini supporters, in contrast, have set their hopes on the 24-year-old leading his country to the FIFA World Cup finals, especially after recent outstanding performances for both his club Al Muharraq and the national team.
Abdulrahman, or ‘Ringo' as he is known to the fans, began his football career with Al Muharraq when he was just nine-years-old before graduating through the youth sides and breaking into the first team five years ago. He won numerous trophies with his local team before a recent on-loan period with Kuwaiti side Al Qadisiya.
Speaking about his time with Al Muharraq and his brief experience in Kuwait Abdulrahman said, "I achieved a great deal with Al Muharraq after I got into the first team, and my experiences were very positive with Al Qadisiya especially since I won three trophies with them."
"Playing for Al Qadisiya helped me a lot to adjust to the professional game. Everyone wants to play in Europe one day and I hope to achieve this dream, especially as the game in Europe is so different from that in Bahrain, the Gulf region or the Arab countries."
Abdulrahman also revealed to FIFA.com the secret behind his nickname ‘Ringo' when he said laughing, "The nickname was given to me by my family. My father looked like Ringo Starr from the Beatles, and because I was so much like my father they gave me the nickname."
Abdulrahman is also known for his incredible ability to score from free-kicks even from long range. He demonstrated this in the matches with Uzbekistan in the fourth round of the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In the first match between the teams in Tashkent the game appeared to be heading for a draw when Abdulrahman scored the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time with a stunning strike from long range. When the teams met again in Manama, Abdulrahman had the last word again when he scored another brilliant free-kick from distance midway through the second half.
On his ability to score from free-kicks Abdulrahman said, "It is a blessing from Allah. I practise hard with both my club and country, taking 10 to 15 free-kicks in each training session and this has helped me become proficient. In the first match in Tashkent I had a strange feeling before the start of the second half that I would score and I did in the final seconds. In the return match I managed to score in the same way. I will never forget these two, especially as they were both winning goals."
Bahrain now face their neighbours Saudi Arabia in a home and away play-off for the 2010 FIFA World Cup on 5 and 9 September, the winner facing New Zealand in an Oceania-Asia play-off for a place in South Africa 2010. Abdulrahman said, "Our group was very difficult especially as Australia and Japan were two of the favourites in Asia. Now we have one more chance to reach the World Cup by facing a very experienced Saudi side. The matches with Saudi Arabia is important for both sides. They have a very strong team, but we know a lot about them and know their weak points. The games will be very difficult for us and also for them and the team which keeps its concentration will succeed."
Abdulrahman believes that the Bahraini team are particularly determined to qualify for the FIFA World Cup after their failure to get past Trinidad and Tobago in the play-off back in 2005. He said, "We now have a match against Saudi Arabia and that is the most important at the moment. If we are successful against Saudi we will then think about New Zealand. As players we have a great desire to achieve this dream and qualify for the finals of the most important football tournament in the world."