Words by Tom Danicek
He isn’t Superman, let alone Buzz Lightyear, but how many times has a relieved Al-Sadd supporter exclaimed “Hassan Al-Haidos to the rescue!” in the past few months? A number of times. He might not win the team a game in the end, but being a sole bright spot can sometimes do the job for a generally unhappy fan. It shows him you at least care, and that’s what the tireless winger indeed does the best.
Therefore, when the super hyped Boualem Khoukhi found himself drowning, when Khalfan Ibrahim utterly disappeared after the stunning opening strike against the UAE, when Qassem Burhan made a softie his sad blueprint, or when Qatar as a whole were simply having a laugh at the ultimate continental showpiece, Hassan Al-Haidos cared a rather lot and left Australia without a single scar on his reputation…
On the contrary, actually, an industrious Al-Haiydos – without creating a single chance in that game – was still asked for his jersey by Carlos Queiroz after an otherwise poor team performance against Iran. And his showing against Bahrain – where he would’ve registered at least three assists, hadn’t Muntari and Khoukhi been so wasteful – easily ranked among the best (however pointless) individual efforts at the tournament.
2015 was, without much doubt, the best calendar year Hassan Al-Haidos has ever had, and while it may not be easy to guess it at first sight, the Asian Cup was actually a great launch pad for the 26-year-old. With just three games under his belt, Al-Haidos remained the joint tournament leader in terms of chances created (15) and the most active crosser of all. Meanwhile, the Al-Sadd mainstay has contributed heavily at the other end, too, as the producer of a stunning 22 ball recoveries (on par with the team’s holding midfielder Karim Boudiaf) and as one flawless tackler (10/10).
While most Qataris have so far failed to recover from the Asian Cup disaster – with only one other tournament regular making it into the #SFGTop100 – Al-Haidos had a different task on his hands. He had acquired something to build on in Australia, some serious momentum, and he certainly didn’t just rest on his laurels.
Instead, the lightning quick forward with tremendous ball control and a diploma in feinting (boy, how he enjoys a cheeky dummy from time to time!) has grown into a smarter finisher, who doesn’t panic around the penalty area and appears useful in a vary of positions. The new Qatar national team manager José Daniel Carreño initially saw Al-Haidos at the tip of his attacking formation, while Al-Sadd coach Amouta has freshly started using him on the left wing more often than before. And to quite some success.
Now it’s clear that Hassan Al-Haidos had been riding a high wave for most of the 2015, and he doesn’t seem to be stopping at all. In fact, he has just recently registered five goals over six competitive matches (club + national team), and so to sum it up: a confident Al-Haidos, greatly synchronized with his left back Abdelkarim Hassan and already involved in eight goal moves of his Al Sadd this league season, is proving to be one of the most unpredictable and devastating forces on the continent.
Highlight of the Year: Impressive finish to the 2014/15 season
The month of May 2015 could as well be named after Hassan Al-Haidos, since he scored five times in the space of 14 days (his best career streak) and single-handedly carried Al-Sadd into the Emir Cup final. The White Wolves in the end triumphed in the domestic cup without any big Al-Haidos’ help in the last game, but who else if not the number 11 would be capable of a two-goal execution of Lekhwiya, the freshly crowned champions, in the semi-final? Safe to say: nobody.
A couple of days later, Al-Haidos was at it again vs Lekhwiya; only this time, his fine efforts were not quite enough in the Champions League quarter-final. “I think it was that bit of form at the end what confirmed the QFA Player of the Year in his favour. That led to his rise to become captain of Qatar NT, a personal career highlight of course,” Ahmed Hashim, Qatari football expert and Al-Sadd supporter, further reckons.