ISL 2018-19: Ahmed Jahouh wary of semifinal challenge

Ahmed Jahouh, the FC Goa midfielder, says the semifinal contest against Mumbai City FC won’t be easy for his side.

Ahmed Jahouh has been prolific for FC Goa this season. Photo: Sportzpics/ISL

Ahmed Jahouh, the Moroccan midfielder, can stake his claim to be the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the fifth season of the Indian Super League. Playing his second season for FC Goa, he has made an impact in both defensive and offensive roles — having played 17 matches, he has the most number of tackles (102) and passes (1,300) so far.

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The 30-year-old had played a similar role under Sergio Lobera at the Mogreb Tetouan club in Morocco, and Lobera, now the FC Goa head coach, banked on Jahouh to run the show here, too. Jahouh has fulfilled his responsibilities well. He is a link in the passing game his team excels in, switching from defensive midfielder to playmaker with ease.

Jahouh chats with Sportstar ahead of the playoff contest against Mumbai City FC.

Q. What is the reason for the right balance between defence and offence displayed by FC Goa?

A: The Indian players are more experienced [as] compared to last season. Two foreign players behind are giving us more confidence (central defenders Moutada Fall and Carlos Penha). The team defends together, not just the four in the backline. The four players in the midfield lend a hand. Sometimes striker [Ferran] Corominas also comes back to help.

How do you look at the challenge ahead in the playoffs?

There is a big difference [between the playoffs and league]. We won the away game [against Mumbai City FC] easily but the semifinal is a big match and will not be easy. Mumbai City has a good team [with] good players. Though we did well in the league, the semifinal is no easy match for us.

Is the ISL getting tougher or easier for a Morocco league performer?

I don’t feel that playing in ISL is getting tougher this time, it is just that I am playing in the best squad in India. We (FC Goa) play the best football. I am a part of this squad.

Who are your most hardworking team-mates?

The wingers are the hardest workers on the pitch. Left winger and right winger attack and defend. I don’t know who will be playing in that position, but wingers work the hardest.

What are the opportunities in Morooco for talented Indian team-mates trying to get a trial after getting inspired by him?

Indian players are better off playing here. Morocco does not have a good league, good money or good stadiums. The playing quality is also normal [in Morocco]. I feel Indians will do better [playing] here.