Emirati goalkeeper who played under Maradona backs Messi for World Cup glory

Majed Naser, capped 72 times by the UAE, supports Brazil but wants to see the Argentine superstar cap off a remarkable career with victory in Doha

Dubai, United Arab Emirates- March,03, 2014: (L) Naseer Masood of Al Shabab and (R)  Waleed Hussain of Al Ahli in action duirng the AGL match at the Rashid Stadium  in Dubai . ( Satish Kumar / The National )  For Sports
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A former UAE international goalkeeper who once played under the legendary Diego Maradona is backing fellow Argentine great Lionel Messi for World Cup glory in Qatar - despite being a life-long fan of fierce rivals Brazil.

Majed Naser, 38, capped 72 times by the Emirates, is switching his South American allegiances for Doha in the hopes of seeing one of the world's greatest players cap off a remarkable career in style.

Paris St Germain star Messi has hinted that he will retire from international football following the tournament, with his quest to finally lift a World Cup trophy.

Naser, who plays for Dubai-based Shabab Al Ahli, is eager to see the mercurial playmaker go one step further than in the 2014 final, when he suffered heartbreak at the hands of Germany.

The veteran player was part of the Al Wasl side managed by the late Maradona a decade ago.

Now he wants to see Messi join his illustrious compatriot as a World Cup winner.

“I'm doing so because I would love to see Messi end his professional career winning the World Cup,” he said.

“It's the last tournament he could take part in, that's why I really wish Argentina wins.”

Naser wants Arab nations competing in Doha to shine bright in the first World Cup held in the Middle East.

“These teams will be representing professional Arab football and I wish they will show real improvement.”

Will Brazil spoil the party?

Waleed Hussain, who joined Abu Dhabi's Al Wahda this year after five years with Shabab Al Ali, is also dreaming of a fairytale final for former Barcelona hero Messi.

“I expect Brazil, France and Argentina to make it to semifinals and really wish Argentina wins the cup,” the 30-year-old said.

“Because I want it to be the happy ending to Messi’s career in football.”

Mohammed Al Daheri, who recently became the first Emirati player to sign with a team in the Iraqi Premier League, expects Brazil to spoil the party and secure a record-extending sixth Jules Rimet Trophy

“I expect Brazil to win the world cup in Qatar, leaving Argentina in second place and France in third, after failing to defend the title with its less than impressive performance lately,” said Al Daheri.

“Brazil has a strong team of young and experienced players, fierce defence and midfield line players, impressive strikers and two powerful goalkeepers.”

The left-back plans to watch the tournament at home but admits he would be desperate to attend if Brazil and Argentina clashed in the December 18 final.

A semi-final showdown appears more likely, but a dream final could be on the cards if either side does not win their group.

“I will watch the games on TV and probably at a cafe. But If the final happens to be between Brazil and Argentina, I will do everything to be in the stadium.”

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Updated: November 15, 2022, 3:46 AM