AFC, Al Ain, Ronaldo, Raja… Soufiane Rahimi speaks to FIFA

AFC, Al Ain, Ronaldo, Raja… Soufiane Rahimi speaks to FIFA
AFC, Al Ain, Ronaldo, Raja… Soufiane Rahimi speaks to FIFA

Moroccan international Soufiane Rahimi has his eyes on the Asian Champions League title with Al Ain. This is what emerges from his confidences at FIFA. He looks back on his experience at Raja and reveals the keys to his success on the field.

Currently tops the Asian tournament’s goalscoring charts with 11 goals to his name, including a hat-trick against Al Hilal in the first leg of the semi-final, and three more crucial goals in both quarter-finals against Cristiano’s Al-Nassr Ronaldo, Soufiane Rahimi revealed everything in an exclusive interview with FIFA.

Displaying unwavering determination, Rahimi aims to lift the trophy with Al Ain and participate in the FIFA Club World Cup in 2025. The talented player also shared the secrets of his team’s success in dominating the competition by eliminating renowned clubs and international stars throughout his triumphant journey.

Only one match away from the Asian title, which would guarantee Al Ain a place in the Club World Cup, the Atlas Lion highlighted the importance of this potential victory: “ Winning the title would open the doors to many tournaments next year, the most prestigious of which is the Club World Cup. Every team dreams of living this experience. We hope, God willing, to have the opportunity to win the title and participate in this competition“.

Asked by FIFA what pressure he might be under as a result of his team not winning the AFC Champions League in 21 years, Rahimi responded confidently, saying he did not feel any added pressure. “ Our journey to the final of this tournament is one of our greatest achievements ever. I’m grateful to my teammates because we faced great teams and knocked them out. We deserve to be in the final. We hope, God willing, to win the title in the end“, he said.

Regarding the first leg against Yakohama and whether any changes will be made for the return leg, the 27-year-old Moroccan clarified that these are different games. “ In the first leg, Yokohama came out on top and constantly pressed as they were playing at home and needed a positive result. We took positive and negative points from this match, but now we will play the return match at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium. Al Ain will be a completely different team at home, especially with the huge crowd and support from fans in the UAE and other Arab countries like Morocco” , he added.

As for the secret of his success against renowned players, such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Rahimi affirmed that success lies in the unity and cohesion of the whole group. “ If you want to achieve a positive result in any match, you can do it with spirit, determination and perseverance. Looking at some matches on paper, one would expect Al Ain to be eliminated, but we achieved what many considered impossible through our determination and will. This continental campaign has been historic for us and we deserve to win it, because if you look at our journey to the final you will see that our success is not due to luck, but to hard work“, he noted.

And to continue: “ Going up against someone like Cristiano Ronaldo is an added incentive because he is one of the greatest players in the world. However, at the start of the match it’s 11 against 11. Going up against Ronaldo and wanting to win against him was really motivating and like I said the secret is in our unity as a group“.

In the story of his journey, the Lion of the Atlas highlighted the impact of his experience within Raja Casablanca on his current success with Al Ain. While wearing the colors of Raja, Rahimi recalled that he played in five continental finals, all ending in victory. This rich experience acquired during tournaments in Morocco greatly facilitated his rapid adaptation within his new team in Al Ain.

From his first steps at the club, Rahimi already had the ambition to shine in the AFC Champions League, aware of the nuances and challenges specific to the Asian competition, distinct from those of African football.

I was hoping to participate in the AFC Champions League as soon as I arrived in Al Ain, because the Asian competition is different from the African competition. Now I managed to reach the final and I hope I will be as successful as in Morocco“, he stressed.



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