For viewers of the excellent Qatari channel "Aldawri walkas" (league & cup), yesterday's "Almajlis" show was quite intresting.
Amongst the crowds, were the Bahraini goal keeping icon Mr. Hmood Sultan as usual, and Shaikh Salman Alkhalifa, the top man of the Bahrain Football Association as a guest.
Simply put, the man was under a barrage of questions from Qatari, Iraqi, Saudi guests and others. Basically everyone asked in a nice way: "Why do Bahrain suck?"
The local media have often complained that opening the doors to make Bahrain players pro was bad as it hurts the team. And that's something Sh. Salman stated as well. but.. a smart man popped up and asked: "How can you say turning players pro is bad, while Matchala (Oman's coach) says its the best thing that ever happened to his players?". Here's a loose translation:
"Well, our coach have noticed that the professional players stamina is under what we require"
"How come? They play as first line start ups in the Qatari league, never missed a match or a practice. I'd understand if they were subs but they're not"
"well.. I'm simply quoting what our coach is saying"
"What do you think?"
"Well, they're awfully tiered because of all the matches they play"
"That can't be right! The Qatar league players have returned to their home teams in Oman Bahrain & Qatar itself. Why isn't this affecting them?"
"um.. well.. you see, being away so long, they lack the coordination and understanding achieved by staying under our supervision"
"yes, but the same goes for the other teams and they do not have that problem. Further more, most of your team players are playing together since '98!"
I couldn't believe it! They were really putting him on the spot! But they were right, whatever reasons we repeat for our failures, aren't exclusive to us. it only affects us. nice.
Khalid Jassim (the host) asked him later about our "imported" players (for those who don't know: there were several non Bahraini's given passports in order to compete for Bahrain. Both for football and other sports), Shaikh Salman said that he can't comment. His response was nice as he said: "As long as there are legal documents proving they are Bahraini citizens, I can't really treat them as not."
Interesting, but the host followed up "And how did they become citizens?"
"They meet certain criteria"
"I did not take the decision to make them nationals"
"Do they have that power?"
"The government only does"
"And we know that the people behind these clubs have strong connections with the government. Right?"
I swear, he must have thought it was a simple guest appearance. I didn't even think they'll cross examine the man ON LIVE TV like that. But its true, Bahrain's team have little reasons to suck. There are problems but I have the feeling that I hear fake, unaccountable problems. It will all lead to some rotten smell. Whether turning a blind eye to the mediocre performances, or the shady reasons why coaches leave and infrastructure is poorer than that of a decent school.
I give it about 2 years before a real football scandal surfaces. Everyone hates it, everyone smells fish. While the BFA's PR says "We're A-OK!". Surely that can't last long.
this post is dedicated to my friend Nawaf. No reason, he simply asked me to dedicate it to him. God knows why.