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Ex-Spartans analyst Mahoney relishing Saudi experience

Dominic Mahoney started a new experience with Saudi club Al-Qadsiah FC.

While much of the attention towards Saudi Arabia football revolves around the star-studded Pro League (the top-flight), there is one club that deserves a closer look as they are hopeful of joining the Kingdom’s elite in the coming season.

Al-Qadsiah FC, based in the city of Khobar, has been running rampant in the second tier as they are the league pacesetters with 34 points after 15 outings.

They have recorded 10 victories and four draws, losing just one in the process – a statistic that allows them to keep a four-point lead above second-place Al Orobah.

With the top three teams guaranteed automatic promotion to the Pro League, Al-Qadsiah FC are in the driving seat to reach their goal.

Contributing to the club’s success is a familiar face to Maltese football in Dominic Mahoney who is a head analyst at the Saudi side.

Mahoney, born in the United Kingdom but grew up in Malta, was previously a first-team assistant coach and head of analysis at Ħamrun Spartans with whom he won last season’s Premier League title.

“At Ħamrun Spartans I was working not only as an analyst but also as one of the assistant coaches which was a role that worked well for me having recently completed the UEFA A licence,” he told the Times of Malta.

“Since joining Al-Qadsiah FC, they have given me real freedom to get stuck into and focus on the analysis side of things.

“I have been trusted by our Head Coach Michel in leading the opposition analysis and that takes up a fair part of my time with the level of detail that we want to go into, but there is also a lot of day-to-day analysis that I also take care of too based around the training.”

After a stellar career as a Real Madrid player, Michel has made a name for himself as a coach as well, managing several clubs in Europe including Olympiacos whom he led to a couple of Greek titles.

Asked about his working relationship with Michel, Mahoney underlined that it is a huge honour to be working with such a football person.

“I enjoy working with him and the assistant coaches and we have a lot of interesting discussions not just about team matters but also even wider aspects of football I feel as though I have learned so much already from this experience,” he said.

Mahoney embarked on his journey into Saudi football midway in August, when the team was still under the guidance of Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler.

“Having joined so close to the start of the league season here, it did not give me much time to set up some of the analysis workflows that I would have liked to have ready for the season,” he said.

“So it has been a bit of a challenge to work on refining these processes while we have to still review our performances as well as analyse the opposition, but I feel like we made good use of the international breaks to try and put some solid foundations in place which will be beneficial in the long run.”

His transition to the lifestyle and culture in the Middle East was quite smooth, having visited that area several times when his parents lived in Oman during his time at university.

“There is a real melting pot of different nationalities here and it has been beneficial to be able to communicate so easily with the other Spanish and French-speaking players and backroom staff,” Mahoney explained.

“I am also trying my best to learn the Arabic language, with there being some similarities with the Maltese language that gave me a bit of a headstart, but I am keen to still learn more.

“Overall, it has been a really enjoyable experience so far, the country is beautiful and the people here are so welcoming and friendly. The weather, this time of the year, is great but initially, it was a little bit challenging with the heat. Moreover, the city of Khobar has a lot of new modern developments, it is a comfortable and pleasant place to live.”

Since the influx of big football names heading to the Kingdom, there has been a lot of news about the facilities that these rich clubs can provide.

Facilities

But what about a second-tier club’s facility in Saudi Arabia?

“With the club being owned by Aramco – the Saudi Arabian Oil Group – the resources are quite simply phenomenal,” Mahoney pointed out.

“We have completely renovated the training ground and an incredibly talented group of staff and players.

“There is a lot of travelling involved and fortunately for us, the club flies us privately to each away game when air travel is required. We have also had two excellent training camps during the international breaks – one at the state-of-the-art training complex of Aspire in Doha and Dubai at another great training facility, these were really good experiences in bringing the players and staff closer as a group. “

Former Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles, Luciano Vietto – known for his Villarreal spell, Peru’s forward Andre Carillo, and Mbaye Diagne (who played in England and Turkey) are among Al-Qadsiah’s key players who are pushing for a successful season.

“I would say that in Khobar and neighbouring Dammam, there is a bit of buzz about the high-profile players we have,” Mahoney said.

“The club has done a lot to interact with the local community and I would say that interest in the team is really on the rise, and I hope the level of support does continue to grow further.”

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