2/8/2017 8:03:54 AM

Enthusiastic & energetic

Enthusiastic & energetic

HIS physique and style make you think that he might pick Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, arguably the world’s most highly-rated player currently in defensive midfield position, as his idol. But Assim Madibo rates Barcelona’s Sergio Busquests just above Kante and it is the Spaniard’s path the Qatari wants to tread as he hopes to make a mark in the game.

“I like Busquets the most. I also like Kante whom I should actually identify with, but Busquets has been my best player. He can keep the ball and go forward. He has fantastic control and reads the game excellently,” Lekhwiya’s Madibo told Doha Stadium Plus, as he completed a testing year since bursting on to the big scene with a series of enthusiastic and energetic performances in Qatar’s fourth-place finish at the Asian Under-23 Championship at home.

That had come close on the heels of his steady show in Qatar’s triumph at the Asian U-19 Championship in Myanmar in October, 2014, and an appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand the following January. The big exposure, including at Cultural Leonesa, helped the ASPIRE Academy product show his potential.

Yet, as his Qatar team-mates Almoez Ali and Ahmed Moein won their places with the first teams of Lekhwiya and El Jaish respectively, and Akram Afif joined Spanish League side Villarreal and later moved to Sporting Gijon on loan, Madibo endured the pain of being on the sidelines owing to two major injuries.

“After last year’s Asian Championship, I was out injured for two long spells. I first suffered due to inflammation on my right knee. I came back after three months, but broke my ankle after two weeks and was out again for another two months. Since the beginning of this season, I was keen to avoid getting injured and play as many minutes as possible. I’m improving step by step,” said the 20-year-old.

Coach Djamel Belmadi has been an admirer of Madibo’s skills and ensures he gets playing time whenever possible.

“I need to thank Belmadi a lot because from the first day, he believed in me and has been helping me a lot. He pushes me during training and is a source of motivation for me,” he said.

Yet, a regular first-team start with the Cops, ahead of Luiz Martin and Karim Boudiaf, is not guaranteed, but Madibo is looking at it positively and waiting for the right moment.

“First of all, I’m lucky to play alongside Boudiaf, Martin and Nam Tae-Hee because, in my opinion, they form the best midfield in Qatar. It’s a great experience to see them train every day, and how they move with and without the ball. Challenging them for a first-team berth is always going to be tough as I’ve to improve a lot to become as good as they’re. With more hard work and experience, I want to achieve that,” said Madibo, who always wants to be in the thick of action.

“I always think that I’m lucky to play football. Millions of people love the game, but all of them can’t play it. I’m also lucky to represent the national team. I find it as an inspiration. Every time I’m given a chance, I try to do my best.

“I want to be one of the best players in Qatar and Asia. I’m also looking forward to represent the country at the 2022 World Cup. I’ll continue to push hard myself even after that,” said Madibo. 

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