Al Nasr new boy Adel Taarabt targeting Fifa World Cup spot with Morocco

Experienced playmaker joined Adnoc Pro League side last week having been released by Benfica

Adel Taarabt hopes his performances for Al Nasr can boost his hopes of making Morocco's World Cup squad. Reuters
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Adel Taarabt is hoping his move to Al Nasr can help secure a place at the upcoming Fifa World Cup with Morocco.

The experienced playmaker, who counts among his previous clubs Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan and Benfica, signed a two-year contract with the Dubai side last week. Taarabt, 33, joined on a free transfer having left Benfica earlier this month.

Speaking on Thursday night, ahead of his expected Adnoc Pro League debut in Saturday’s derby against Al Wasl, Taarabt said: “First of all, the first thing, I’m happy to be here. I was welcomed very well by the coach [Thorsten Fink], his staff, and my teammates and the club as well. I’m here to help the team and give my experience to the squad. I hope I will help a lot.

“And hopefully on the weekend we’re going to get the three points, because it’s a derby, we want to win. And the game is at home.

“I just can’t wait to be fit to give this plus to the team and hopefully we will have a good start on Saturday. It’s easier to win the derby and then have a positive vibe around the club. That is our aim. And, Inshallah, on Saturday we will achieve that.”

Born in Fez, Taarabt chose to represent Morocco despite playing age-group football with France. He has made 30 appearances for his national team since debut in 2009, with his most recent cap coming in a friendly against the United States in June.

However, Taarabt played only once during qualification for the World Cup, in the 2-0 home win against Sudan last September. Drawn in Group F for the Qatar finals, Morocco open their account on November 23 against 2018 runners-up Croatia, before taking on Belgium and Canada.

Asked about making the squad for the finals, Taarabt said: “Of course this is a wish. In two months, there is a World Cup so I hope that I will do well and I will have a chance.

“This will depend on my performances here, so I’m very excited. I’m very happy to be here, very happy with the idea of the coach, the way he wants to play, the way he wants to build, the way he wants to press.”

Al Nasr manager Fink said: “I’m sure with Adel we have a very experienced player. In fact, I know he’s an experienced player. And he has so many qualities. So, for us, it’s a good option to take him, not only for this moment, for this year - he wants to go to the World Cup.

“We need these quality players here in our club to achieve the title, for sure. And, also, he played for Benfica and so on ... I have some friends in Benfica, the German assistant coach is my friend, so I know a lot of things; we are not unprepared.

“And what’s also good is he speaks Arabic, Portuguese and English, so that’s very good to adapt very fast, and also for our players too. So this is a big advantage we have.”

Speaking later to Arabic publication Al Bayan, Taarabt added: “This is my first experience in the Gulf and, of course, it’s different to Europe. But I have to adapt to my team, to my teammates, to the club. I hope I can bring my experience to the team, my skills. And I hope we get good results."

Updated: September 30, 2022, 8:30 AM