Courtesy: The Rayane Rachid, the three-sport international winning fans in ThailandSunday, May 6, 2018
Bangkok: In their first appearance at the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship, Lebanon has unearthed a player of impressive quality, but Rayane Rachid’s ability on the court only tells part of her story.
In two matches in Bangkok, she has scored her country’s first ever goal on the continental stage, earned admirers with her skill on the ball and come in for special praise from head coach Maroun El Khoury.
In a tournament where many players have experience on the football pitch as well as the futsal court, Rachid has the distinction of having also played for the Lebanese national team in handball, making her a triple international at the age of the 23.
“Handball was a new experience for me,” said Rachid, who works as a teacher.
“This year was the first cup in Lebanon and we also had the West Asian Championship (in Jordan in February).
“We went and did very well considering we had just started. I like it, but I prefer futsal and football.”
When assessing Rachid’s recent success, it is easy to see why. Playing for the Zouk Mosbeh club, 2018 has already seen her claim Lebanese league and cup titles in football and most recently, the national futsal league crown.
She took her league form with her to Bangkok, scoring Lebanon’s first ever AFC Women’s Futsal Championship goal and tricking her way past countless defenders in their creditable 5-1 defeat to continental powerhouse Japan on Matchday One.
As a veteran of the Lebanon national football team’s 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifying campaign, Rachid is well placed to assess her country’s potential in both sports.
She believes her side have shown their potential on the futsal court, despite suffering defeats to the more established Japan and China PR.
“We haven’t quite had the luck to score and if you don’t score you can’t win, but I think (so far) we played very well,” she declared.
“It’s because of injuries in our team that we have had a little bit of difficulty in maintaining our fitness, which has played a big role in the results.
“We are still new in the futsal world, but I think we are learning well and getting experience for the next championship and I hope in the next championship, we will prepare well and be stronger.”
While their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals have been dashed, the West Asians are confident of a maiden win against Bahrain on Monday and, with their versatile star pulling the strings, the future appears bright for Lebanon.
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari