Ali Mabkhout driven by winning titles with Al Jazira not goalscoring records

UAE striker is 32 goals off compatriot Fahad Khamis’ standalone mark, and while the record is a target, helping his club achieve success remains the priority

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 13: Ali Mabkhout of Al Jazira in action during the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 semi-final match between Al Jazira and Real Madrid on December 13, 2017 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
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Al Jazira striker Ali Mabkhout has his sights set on becoming the all-time record goalscorer in UAE football, but insists firing the club to glory remains his No 1 target.

The Emirati, 28, finished the 2018/19 Arabian Gulf League with 20 goals, taking him to 133 in 190 UAE top-flight appearances since making his debut for the Abu Dhabi side a decade ago.

It means Mabkhout sits third on the all-time list, four behind Al Wahda’s Sebastian Tagliabue – the Argentine, last season’s top scorer, is still active – and 32 off compatriot Fahad Khamis’ standalone mark.

Mabkhout’s double against Al Ain in April had lifted him temporarily into second place behind Khamis, drawing the forward level with the once-prolific Mohammed Omar. Tagliabue then finished the campaign with 27 goals to move behind Khamis.

However, with Jazira ultimately finishing fifth in the table, Mabkhout says he is concerned primarily with helping the 2016/17 champions challenge once more for major honours.

“As a striker, I am happy about this goalscoring achievement,” the UAE international said. “But these kind of accomplishments are just secondary to me in football. My intention is always to help Al Jazira as much as I can. If I can break the record then of course I will be very happy.

“But I will not put extra pressure on myself to break it. I will definitely go for the record, but that is not the only thing that I want to focus on as I want to help Al Jazira be successful.

“The club has helped me a lot in my development so I will do my best to keep on thriving and give back in return.”

Having first scored for Jazira aged 18, Mabkhout has gone on to break a number of records with the club. Three seasons ago, as the capital club marched to a third UAE championship, he struck 33 goals to set a new professional-era mark.

Mabkhout, who had been linked with a move this summer, registered more than a goal per league game last season – he played only 19 matches – but is targeting an even better return next term to aid his team's chances of silverware.

“Al Jazira always want to be competitive and I think we can definitely compete for the title next season," he said. "We have a solid squad who are made up of quality international and experienced players. There are also a good crop of talented youngsters coming through who all have the potential to succeed.”