Qatar’s Barsham does his sporting family proud

  • Meshaal Barsham inspires Qatar to third place at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™

  • Young keeper caps dazzling display with decisive shootout save

  • Hails from a family with a golden Olympic pedigree

Mention the name Barsham in Qatar and the locals will no doubt talk about global athletics star, Mutaz Barsham, who won gold in the men’s high jump at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

As of this Saturday, however, the family has one more reason to be proud of its sporting sons, after Mutaz’s younger brother Meshaal led the hosts to victory over Egypt in the match for third place at the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™.

It was the keeper’s first appearance of the tournament, with coach Felix Sanchez having made Saad Alsheeb his first choice and then giving Yousof Hassan a run-out between the posts in Al Annabi’s final Group A game against Iraq.

The 23-year-old Barsham made the most of his opportunity at Stadium 974, denying the Pharaohs on more than one occasion in the second half. With the sides locked at 0-0 after extra time, the game went to a penalty shootout, where Barsham proved his worth again, saving from Mohamed Sherif to secure a 5-4 victory for Al Annabi.

Speaking to FIFA.com after the match, Barsham said: “It was my first game of the tournament and I was ready to play, as were the other keepers. We’ve been preparing for a long time for these big matches. Luck was on my side today. I saved quite a few shots before blocking the last penalty.”

Praise and advice

Barsham, who made his international debut against Costa Rica in a friendly in November 2020, came in for praise from his coach for his meaningful contribution to the hosts’ third-place finish. “He had a great game today, and thanks to him and the rest of the players we got the third place,” said the Spaniard. "It was an outstanding performance from him. He’s a very young player but he is really talented, and extremely professional too. He handled the emotion of the occasion really well today and helped us a lot.”

Barsham was indebted to team-mate Bassam Al Rawi, who spoke to him at length before the shootout and gave him some valuable advice. Revealing what he told the tall keeper, Al Rawi had this to say to FIFA.com: “I told him to pick an angle and not to hesitate and change his mind when the opponent took the penalty.” “He also advised me not to come off the goal-line because then the kick would be retaken,” added Barsham. The hero of the hour was all smiles as he held up the Player of the Match award and joked that his sporting genes were the secret to his outstanding performance.

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 18: Meshaal Barsham of Qatar receives the Man of the Match award following the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 3rd Place Match between Egypt and Qatar at Stadium 974 on December 18, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mohamed Farag - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)