Hakeem al-Araibi trains with second-tier club Pascoe Vale in Australia, says he wants to play in A-League

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has resumed training in Australia and revealed a dream to play in the domestic A-League, but admits he is out of shape after two months in a Thai jail.

Agence France-Presse February 22, 2019 15:00:05 IST
Hakeem al-Araibi trains with second-tier club Pascoe Vale in Australia, says he wants to play in A-League
  • Hakeem al-Araibi returned to Melbourne earlier this month after being detained during his honeymoon in Bangkok and threatened with extradition to his native Bahrain

  • The A-League is planning to expand from 10 teams to 12 and one of the new franchises, Melbourne-based Western United, is currently scouring state leagues for new players.

  • The newspaper said they planned to assess al-Araibi's credentials once he builds up his strength.

Melbourne: Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has resumed training in Australia and revealed a dream to play in the domestic A-League, but admits he is out of shape after two months in a Thai jail.

Hakeem alAraibi trains with secondtier club Pascoe Vale in Australia says he wants to play in ALeague

File image of Hakeem Alaraibi. AFP

The 25-year-old defender returned to Melbourne earlier this month after being detained during his honeymoon in Bangkok and threatened with extradition to his native Bahrain.

Bahraini authorities accuse him of offences linked to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. But his detention sparked a worldwide outcry and he was eventually allowed back to Australia where he was granted asylum in 2014.

Al-Araibi ran back onto the training field this week with his second-tier club Pascoe Vale, and told The Melbourne Age newspaper he had a long-term goal to crack the A-League.

"I will start the training now and do my best. I want to see my future. I want to be in the A-League in the future. I am not ready now, but if I work hard, get better, maybe," he said.

The A-League is planning to expand from 10 teams to 12 and one of the new franchises, Melbourne-based Western United, is currently scouring state leagues for new players.

The newspaper said they planned to assess al-Araibi's credentials once he builds up his strength.

But the road back will be tough for a player whose fitness levels suffered during his time in a tiny Thai cell.

"I just did one training session before I went away so I have to work. I did some exercise in prison, but it's a very small area. There is not enough room for a football player to get fit," he said.

"I did as good a job as I can. Sometimes I went to the gym, but it's not enough. I could run a little bit, but there are many people in the jail, it's very hard for me to find the space."

Al-Araibi's fate became a cause celebre in the football world, with stars like Didier Drogba calling for his release and FIFA urging the Thai football authorities to intervene.

He said his Pascoe Vale teammates gave him a "very special welcome" on his return.

"They supported me and my wife – it's why I will always support this club and I want to work hard for this club," he said.

Updated Date:

also read

FIFA set for talks with clubs, leagues, player unions on biennial World Cup
Sports

FIFA set for talks with clubs, leagues, player unions on biennial World Cup

A "new phase of consultation" will start with organisations representing players, clubs, leagues and the six continental governing bodies, FIFA said Monday in a statement.

Bundesliga: Star striker Robert Lewandowski hints at finishing career at Bayern Munich
Sports

Bundesliga: Star striker Robert Lewandowski hints at finishing career at Bayern Munich

The 33-year-old Lewandowski has a Bayern contract until June 2023 and despite having often been linked to a move to Real Madrid in the past, he told reporters that he "doesn't need to prove myself in another league".

England leapfrog France into third place in FIFA men's international rankings
Sports

England leapfrog France into third place in FIFA men's international rankings

Belgium and Brazil retain first and second spots respectively, while England make their first appearance on the podium in nine years on the back of two wins and a draw in recent 2022 World Cup qualifiers.