Being an Al Ahli fan, I rarely heap praise on any aspect of any club across the great divide that is the Dubai Creek, but I feel compelled to talk about the underachieving Al Wasl team at the turn of the 21st century, and one outstanding player in particular.
How the Cheetahs never managed to finish higher than 5th in the league between 1999 –2002 is beyond me. Managed by Alain Laurier and Henryk Kasperczak over this period, the club seemed destined for success, boasting big-name players such as the Iranian hit-man Farhad Majidi, Qatari legend Mohammed Al Enazi and the explosive Chilean Christian Montecinos, who scored against Manchester United in the inaugural World Club Championship in 2000.
The piece de la resistance of this Al Wasl team, however, came in the form of a little-known Moroccan midfielder named Rasheed Dawoody. A veteran of the 1994 World Cup, imagine the rugged grit of Gennaro Gattuso, the vision of Andres Iniesta and the dead ball proficiency of Sinisa Mihajlovic all rolled into one.
Okay, the Iniesta reference may be a tad exaggerated (I get excited sometimes, forgive me), but boy, this Dawoody chap could strike a ball. To get an idea of what I’m talking about, watch the video above – sublime free kicks week-in-week-out coupled with rugged determination made Dawoody Al Wasl’s combative midfield lynch pin.
One strike that sticks in the memory came in the 1999/2000 President’s Cup final versus Al Wahda – seen in the above video at the 1:31 mark.
In front of a packed crowd that stadium managers across the country this year can only dream of, Dawoody walloped the ball goal wards from just outside the center circle,the shot taking a missile-like trajectory into the top corner.
Dawoody and the rest of the Al Wasl team leapt and sprinted around like madmen, running past a brilliant banner – you’ll see it
briefly in the clip- that proclaimed ‘Nobody Can Stop Dawoody’s Rockits’. Judging by the quality of his strikes, nobody could.
Dawoody eventually moved across the Emirates to Al Ain, then on to Qatar and back to his native Morocco, where he retired. He won a few more caps for Morocco, playing for his country in a four-nation tournament against South Korea and the UAE, largely down to his impressive performances for the Cheetahs.
With UAE clubs recruiting European and South American stars left right and center this season, incumbent players should look to Dawoody for inspiration – legends can be found in the most unlikely places.
The author of this piece originally had it published on Sport 360 in 2011.