Churchill’s Lebanese duo hopeful of 2014 World Cup qualification
This season’s I-League has seen the arrival of a number of quality foreigners but only two of them can still realistically dream of playing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, and they are the two Lebanese internationals of Churchill Brothers.
Defender Bilal Najjarin and striker Akram Moghrabi have quickly established themselves as important first team members of the Goan giants. Bilal has been one of the best defenders in the league so far, while with four goals, Akram is very much in the running for the top scorer spot.
Both are also very much part of the Lebanon national team, who are in the final rounds of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers (Asia Zone). They are currently at the bottom of Group A but are only three points behind leaders South Korea.
Lebanon showed in September that they are not there just to make the numbers, as they defeated Iran 1-0, with Bilal playing the whole game and Akram named on the bench.
The West Asian outfit were placed 154 in the FIFA Rankings back in 2010 but are now 109th in the world and 12th in the continent.
Bilal, who has 35 caps, credits the change in his nation’s fortunes to German coach Theo Bucker, who took charge in August 2011.
“(We are doing so well) because of the change in the coach, he (Bucker) is a very good coach as he trusts everyone and works hard with the team. He tries to make the national team like a family and pushes everybody to go forward. It’s also the first time that the government is helping the national team to achieve our goals.
“We still have four games to go against Qatar, Uzbekistan, South Korea and Iran. Hopefully, we can make the results go our way and qualify,” the 31-year-old told Sportskeeda.
Akram, who has been capped 24 times at international level, explained to Sportskeeda how Bucker makes it a point to find out about the duo’s progress in India.
“He doesn’t watch our games, however he knows our style of play very well and when we are called back for practice sessions with the national team, he gathers all the information about our time in India,” Akram said.
The duo’s next national team assignment is an away World Cup qualifying match against Qatar on November 14.