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Koo Ja-Cheol promises to deliver for Al Gharafa

Former South Korean captain will add strength to the Cheetahs’ midfield in the new season.
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Former South Korean national team captain Koo Ja-Cheol with Al Gharafa Sports Club’s football manager Saad Al Shammari on Thursday. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Former South Korean captain Koo Ja-Cheol unveiled an ambitious agenda as he was presented as an Al Gharafa player in Doha on Thursday.

Koo, who led the Koreans at the 2014 World Cup, had been playing with FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga before Al Gharafa signed him ahead of the new Qatar Stars League season starting on August 21.

“I played nine years in Germany and I have a lot of experience. I want to have a different experience and challenge and that is why I signed for Al Gharafa,” said the 30-year-old midfielder, who will don the number 10 jersey for the Cheetahs.

Koo turned out for UFL Wolfsburg, Mainz 05 and FC Augsburg during his nine seasons in the Bundesliga. A bronze medal winner at the 2012 London Olympics, his best memory, perhaps, came here in Qatar, when he was the top scorer in the 2011 Asian Cup for South Korea.

“I have happy and positive memories of Qatar,” said Koo. “I scored five goals and had four assists during the Asian Cup. And it helped me to progress in my career. I also have heard about the Qatar Stars League from my compatriots Nam Tae-Hee and Jung Woo-Young, who both play for Al Sadd. They gave me a positive feedback.”

The South Korean said he was looking forward to competing against top outfits like Sadd and Duhail.

“I saw their match the other day and it was a tough game. Not many outside know about the standards here. If you look at it, Qatar are the Asian Cup champions, so that means they have a stable league to pick players from.”

Gharafa are seven-time winners of the Qatar league title, but their last success came in 2010. They finished eighth in the 12-team league during the 2018-19 season.

Koo, who retired from national duty after this year’s Asian Cup, said he was aware of the Gharafa’s rich history and their recent drought.

“I always play with a plan and play to win. I played nine years in Germany – that means I did my best there and it is the same mentality that I bring here. I want to try my best to be a champion, but football is a team game and it is important to work together as a team,” he said.

Al Gharafa play their first match against Al Shahania on Thursday, August 22, at the Al Janoub Stadium.