Gulf Times - Mehdi Taremi is raring to go in every sense of the word. The tall Al Gharafa striker cannot just wait for the QNB Stars League’s Week 14 action to begin. And what better resumption of career could he have hoped for, as the Cheetahs will play host to 13-time champions Al Sadd this Thursday.
Taremi, who joined Al Gharafa in the winter transfer window along with Dutch great Wesley Sneijder, had to sit out of their Week 13 game against Umm Salal, which they won 4-2.
Taremi had been serving a FIFA suspension over a contract dispute with Turkish club Caykur Rizespor dating back to June, 2016, when the player reached an agreement to join them and later returned to Iranian league reigning champions Persepolis.
In an Interview, the 25-year-old, who is playing club football for the first time outside his country and has scored 10 goals from 22 matches for the Iran national team, spoke in length about various topics.
How has your Qatar experience so far been?
I have been in Qatar for just more than a week and I feel happy. I am getting good support from the club officials and players. I just finished a four-month suspension over a contract dispute. I’m eager to hit the straps and looking forward to make a strong comeback to football with Al Gharafa.
How do you find your stint with Al Gharafa?
I am only starting my Al Gharafa stint competitively. I am thrilled that my first match in Qatar will be against a strong side like Al Sadd. The team spirit and dressing-room ambience at Al Gharafa are good. I gather the team has improved considerably and the back-to-back victories give all of us a sense of satisfaction.
Why did you choose Al Gharafa?
I had heard a lot about club football in Qatar and its high level of quality. My countrymen Ashkan Dejagah, who had a long stint with Al Arabi, and Masoud Shojaei, who himself played in Al Gharafa, had given me a fair idea about the prospects of pursuing my career in Qatar. But it was current Al Sadd player Morteza (Pouraliganji) and Al Khor’s Soroush (Hossein) who gave me a clearer picture of the situation here.
You are yet to play your first match with new team, but what’s the difference you find in Iran and Qatar?
You can’t actually compare the game in Iran with that in Qatar. In our country, there’s a bigger player pool even though the infrastructure isn’t that high. In Qatar also, the quality of the game is high. So are the facilities.
How do you look at playing alongside Sneijder?
Sneijder is a great player. There’s no doubt about it. He has famously represented Ajax Amsterdam, Real Madrid and Inter Milan. I have always liked his style of play. His presence will be good for Al Gharafa and Qatar football in general.
What’re the prospects of Gharafa?
Al Gharafa is a big club with many achievements. This team has the quality and capacity to beat any side in the QNB Stars League.
How is it being under the tutelage of new coach Bulent Uygun?
I had heard about coach Bulent and his style of functioning even before I came to Qatar. He gives us specific training and I don’t see any reason why Gharafa can’t be a formidable force again.
How do you see your match against Al Sadd in Week 14?
Al Sadd are also a strong side, but I believe we can win the match. This Al Gharafa squad is functioning like a well-oiled machine. And why not? We can beat them. I joined Al Gharafa to help them win games. I wish to win one tournament with them.
What’s your message to Gharafa fans?
We’ll do our best to make the fans happy with many a good performance. Personally, I wish to delight them by scoring a lot of goals.
How about Iran’s chances at the forthcoming FIFA World Cup?
Iran are clubbed along with Spain, Portugal and Morocco in strong Group B. Still, we hope to progress to the knockout round.