Abu Dhabi: The 2018-19 season saw Ali Mabkhout equal an eight-year UAE league goalscoring record, but the prolific UAE and Al Jazira striker insists he is more concerned about team success than personal accolades.
With the league campaign now complete, Mabkhout is reflecting on another productive season with his 20 goals helping The Pride of Abu Dhabi finish fifth in this season’s Arabian Gulf League (AGL).
Although the club fell short of their quest for trophies, there was personal accomplishment for Mabkhout in April. His brace in their emphatic 5-1 thrashing of Al Ain saw him become the joint-second highest goalscorer in UAE league history with 132 strikes in 188 games, going level with former UAE striker Mohammad Omar, whose record had stood since 2011.
That record was broken by Al Wahda’s Sebastian Tagliabue last month, but Mabkhout sent out another reminder of why he’s one of the most prolific strikers in Asia and the world in the last decade when he took his tally to 133 strikes against Al Nasr in the final match of the season.
Having opened his account against Al Dhafra as a promising 18-year-old, Mabkhout’s incredible strike rate means it should only be a matter of time before the Al Jazira academy graduate overtakes Fahad Khamis’ feat of 165 goals.
If and when he does become the top goalscorer, Mabkhout says it would be a proud moment for him and Al Jazira but insists his priority will always be to help fire his club to glory.
“As a striker, I am happy about this goalscoring achievement,” said Mabkhout, who holds the record for most number of goals (33) in an AGL campaign during Al Jazira’s title-winning 2016-17 season and has broken all of his clubs scoring records.
“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.”
Their fifth-place finish in the AGL means the club will focus on the three domestic competitions when the 2019-20 campaign begins.
Mabkhout has been impressed with how his team performed in the last 10 months and believes whether there are reinforcements or not this summer, their squad is definitely strong enough to mount a serious challenge in all competitions.
“We have played very well this season and that is down to Damien’s [head coach] philosophy of playing excellent football that has delivered positive results, the support of the management and the fans,” added Mabkhout, who has won two AGL titles, three President’s Cups and Arabian Gulf Cup at the club.
“Al Jazira always want to be competitive and I think we can definitely compete for the title next season. 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.”