- Special Pages
DOHA: Influential French striker Djibril Cisse (pictured below) has played in the most glamorous leagues for some of the biggest teams in the world.
He’s a striker who was born to score goals; someone who has never given up or shied away from a challenge. Cisse is a player who recovered from breaking both legs in the space of a couple of years – before going on to become fitter than ever.
It’s that determination to prove people wrong that brought him to Qatar. He has left the glitz of the English Premier League (EPL) behind to help improve and raise the profile of the Qatar Stars League (QSL). When Cisse left QPR to sign for Al Gharafa at the end of the season in January, people sat up and took notice.
By his own admission, the move to Qatar has been harder than Cisse first imagined.
Today he will face Al Arabi in the semi-finals of the QNB Cup. It will be a chance to pull the boots on after a short break from QSL action.
That game is something Cisse is looking forward to. Because like everything else, the Frenchman wants to use his talent and sheer determination to make sure his time in the QSL is a success.
In a chat with www.qsl.com.qa, Cisse, 31, spelt out the reasons why he’s had a tough landing in the Qatari capital.
“Qatar is completely different to anything I’ve known. It’s a different country, a different way of living and different football. It’s been hard but it’s getting easier,” Cisse.
“The change in the style of football really surprised me. It’s not what I was used to, not when you compare it to England, France or Italy. It just takes some time to get used to.
“It’s a different rhythm but that’s something I need to adapt to. The one thing about this move is it’s a great experience. In years to come I will be able to look back and say: ‘I played there, I helped the league’.
“For the time that I am here I would like to do as well as I can. I don’t know if it will be longer than the loan period but I am trying to do my best and give the best impression of me as a footballer.”
Cisse’s settling in period was disrupted when French boss Alain Perrin suddenly left his post as Al Gharafa coach. Perrin was replaced by Habib Al Sadiq.
The 31-year-old refuses to use that as an excuse for his form though. Instead he believes everything will fall into the place on the pitch now he has settled off it.
“The first month was different for a number of reasons, it wasn’t just the manager it was everything. When you change country you change your life but I like challenges and this was something that excited me,” the former Liverpool, Marseille and Lazio star
“I don’t feel pressure or expectation. I’ve been playing football for 12 years now and I’ve always been one of the key or star players in the teams I have played with. I know how football works. I know how to deal with the pressure. I know how it works with strikers because you can be in the team and then out of the team.
“We also have cycles where you can score goals you can’t even imagine and then you will miss the easiest of chances. That’s only the players who understand that. We know that at times it won’t always go the right way.
“The players who last the longest are the ones who know this but still have belief in their own talent.
“I know I can score goals in any league, I don’t have any doubt about that. It just takes time because it’s a big change.
“I didn’t just change city, I changed country and changed culture. Hopefully I’m doing okay considering what I have experienced.”
Today’s game kicks off at 6.30pm at Qatar Sports Club.