DOHA: Lekhwiya skipper Madjid Bougherra, formerly of SPL side Rangers, is hoping to guide his team to Qatar Cup win in the final against El Jaish today.
Central defender Bougherra gave QSL Online a few minutes before training to talk about his and Lekhwiya’s preparations ahead of the first ever Qatar Cup final.
Excerpts from a chat with Bougherra:
Question: How does it feel to be in the first ever Qatar Cup? It must be a very important match for you.
Bougherra: Yes this match is very important for us and a pleasure to be the first team with El Jaish to be in the final of the first Qatar Cup because it’s a new Cup and we want to be the first to win this new and special tournament. Around town I have seen a big push to advertise it and I am sure it will be a nice spectacle and it will have a good atmosphere, I’m very pleased.
Question: Your Champions League campaign didn’t go as planned shall we say, so does that mean there is now more focus on this Cup for both teams?
Bougherra: Yes we are now more focused on this Cup because we want redeem ourselves after the AFC Champions League exit and if we win this Cup, we can get some more confidence and it will be like a present to the team to forget the bad performances in the AFC Champions League.
Question: When you prepare for a Cup final, is it different from normal preparation?
Bougherra: Its more about mental preparation - the training is the same but mentally you need to be excited when you go onto the pitch, you need to give 200 percent, a Cup final is a very different animal. You need to give absolutely everything in the 90 minutes, its only one game so you shouldn’t come off the pitch with any regrets. You need to play at your highest possible level, if you don’t give it your all then you will probably lose.
Question: It has been a long but successful season for Lekhwiya. How do you keep yourself motivated, personally speaking?
Bougherra: Personally now, it has been seven years that I contest for titles and I have this aim always in my mind, it’s in my blood, I am a competitor, I want to win everything. From daily training to the actual matches, to the Cup finals - so this is part of my natural mentality. In terms of the team, Lekhwiya is now a big team, everybody knows this, we are a big team in Qatar but we also want to be a big team in Asia so this motivates us every season. To be a big team you need to win everything, it doesn’t matter what competition it is and this is the mentality/philosophy of the team.
Question: Sometimes in Cup finals there are some surprises as the team that is expected to win doesn’t or a normally quiet player becomes the hero of the night. Have you ever noticed this phenomenon?
Bougherra: Yes, yes I agree. This is the charm of the Cup; you can see many things that you don’t normally see in a regular game. So some players do everything because they know if they win then their name will be written in the pages of football history and they will always have the Cup final win in their memory. Nobody can take that away from you.
Question: So perhaps you can be a player to make an impact this Saturday?
Bougherra: Yeah I hope so. It will be very difficult but yes I hope so. I scored the other night in the AFC Champions League, I had to wait a long time for the opportunity but they gave it to me and I really enjoyed that penalty goal. That match reminded me of the UK because the weather was crazy, it was rainy and cold and I really enjoy those conditions because as you know the weather in Qatar is very hot.
Question: So do you believe that the weather conditions can affect the quality of the Cup final?
Bougherra: Obviously the weather can have an impact on the quality of the game, for me personally I prefer the cold. Humid and hot conditions are always more difficult. When you are playing in the cold, you have to run around a bit but then your body warms up and then you feel fine. The body reacts better when it’s cold than when it’s hot. When its hot players get fatigued easily, they can’t sprint as much, they lose concentration a lot easier, they lose a lot of fluids and this affects their focus. Also the pace of the game is different and out here it’s a little slower, more tactical because you can’t run for 90 minutes like in Europe. It’s a different style but I like it also, a good player can adapt to different styles and external factors. THE PENINSULA