Ones to Watch: Hassan Matouk (Lebanon)
Kuala Lumpur: Lebanon qualified for the AFC Asian Cup for the first time after playing in the 2000 edition as the host country. And Hassan Maatouk’s contribution has been crucial to their success.
Despite boasting a host of foreign-based players, Maatouk, who returned to Lebanon after six years in UAE football, remains Lebanon’s talisman. He helped the Cedars qualify for UAE 2019 with five goals in six matches.
Date of birth: 08/10/1987
Current club: Nejmeh SC (Lebanon)
Previous clubs: Al Ahed (Lebanon), Ajman, Al Shaab, Fujairah (All UAE)
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Maatouk made his Lebanon debut in 2006 and went on to make 16 appearances for Lebanon over the next five years, before he scored his first international goal against Bangladesh in 2011.
From that match onwards, Maatouk became a key part of the national team, and when Lebanon legend Roda Antar retired in 2016, Maatouk succeeded him as captain. The seasoned striker now has 19 international goals, just one less than Antar.
Style of play
Maatouk initially started out as a centre-forward before moving out to the wing, but as seen by his stats at club and country, he hasn’t lost his goalscoring touch, excelling at cutting inside from the wing to create opportunities.
Lebanon 🇱🇧 captain Hassan Maatouk, who scored 5 goals in the qualifiers, is just one goal away from equalling Roda Antar’s record as the Cedars’ all-time top goal scorer. Can he get past Antar in #AsianCup2019? 👀 pic.twitter.com/s1CtxwsBei— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) November 2, 2018
Even at 31, Maatouk remains an agile player, meaning that his off the ball play is an important part of his game too. However, it is his ball-carrying skills that make him so important to the national team as he dribbles and goes past opposition defenders.
What to look for
After an impressive qualifying campaign under coach Miodrag Radulovic, Lebanon will continue to rely on Maatouk as the fulcrum in their quick counter-attacking style as they look to create an upset against more experienced sides like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Where and when to watch him:
Lebanon v Qatar
Venue: Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Kick-off: January 9, 20:00 UTC+4
Lebanon v Saudi Arabia
Venue: Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
Kick-off: January 12, 20:00 UTC+4
Lebanon v DPR Korea
Venue: Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah
Kick-off: January 17, 20:00 UTC+4
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