Moussa Marega aims to use Asian Champions League pedigree to lead Sharjah bid

Malian striker played a key role in Al Hilal's 2021 triumph and is backing his new club to go far

Moussa Marega joined Sharjah in September after two successful seasons with Al Hilal. Photo: Sharjah FC
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Moussa Marega is aiming to use his Asian Champions League pedigree to help fire Sharjah to success in the tournament as the group stage gets under way on Monday.

Marega spent two successful seasons at Saudi giants Al Hilal and starred in their 2021 Champions League triumph, scoring in both the semi-final and final. The Malian striker was also on target in the 2022 Fifa Club World Cup final as Hilal lost a thriller, 5-3, to Real Madrid.

However, Hilal's unprecedented summer transfer business, which saw the club bolster their attack with the arrivals of Neymar, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Malcom, meant Marega was deemed surplus to requirements, and he joined Sharjah in September.

“When I change clubs, my goals are always the same; it's about trying to score as many goals as usual, being an effective player ... and winning trophies," Marega, 32, said in an interview with the AFC. "I've won trophies, so I'm always hungry to win more and hopefully with Sharjah I'll win and carry some more."

In addition to his success in the Asian Champions League, Marega secured the Saudi Pro League title in 2022 and last season's King's Cup with Hilal. The Mali international was also previously a star for Porto, winning two Portuguese Primeira Liga titles and the Portuguese Cup during a five-year spell.

“The good thing is that I have played several competitions at a high level. So, from there, I think I can bring a little more experience. But the most important thing, I think, is to be on the field and fight, to run and do for the team and try to be efficient," Marega said.

“I have won trophies in other clubs where I was able to score a lot of goals. This is also what happened in other clubs. Now, I haven't done anything yet here. So, it will be up to me to prove and show what I can bring to the team and what we can achieve with my help.”

Sharjah are competing in their fifth Asian Champions League and fourth in a row. The UAE Pro League side qualified for the tournament as President's Cup winners and came through two preliminary rounds to reach the group stage.

They are one of two UAE representatives, with 2022 league champions Al Ain having gained direct entry to the groups.

Cosmin Olaroiu's side open their Group B campaign with a trip to 2022 Qatar champions Al Sadd on Monday, before home and away ties against Uzbeki club Nasaf and Al-Faisaly of Jordan.

Sharjah then conclude the group with a home tie against Al Sadd on November 27, and Marega believes the squad has the ability to go far in the tournament.

“Already, my first impression is that it is a very big club. It's one of the biggest clubs in the UAE,” he said.

“It's a pleasure to come to this club and to be able to play with great players like [Miralem] Pjanic and [Kostas] Manolas, too, whom I met during my career. It's nice to be able to play with this squad and I think that with this team, I think we can achieve very, very good goals."

Updated: September 17, 2023, 8:10 AM