What do we know about Al Karamah FC? Even after last week's game, I (we?) must be honest and say: "Not a lot". They come from Damascus, they have a large support. They beat us one-nil in the first leg and their goal was scored by a Brazilian.
I could have searched out a bit more technical knowledge of Tuesday's AFC Cup opponents (Kick off 1930) but I've already done plenty of tactical analysis for the FA Cup quarter final game between MTU and Rajpracha (coming soon to this blog) so this time I opted for a different tack and decided to have a chat with a most articulate, knowledgeable and friendly fan of Al Karamah by the name of Ahmad, webmaster at the Al Karamah fan site (Arabic). Ahmad and I had a laid back chat about football culture and fans' perceptions of each other. Many thanks to him for his time. The interview took place before the first leg.
Can you tell us just a little about yourself - your first name, your age and what you do for work?
My name is Ahmad , 25 years old. I got a mathematics diploma the last year , and now I work as a math teacher while I prepare myself to get a masters degree in Information Technology (IT).
How long have you supported Al Karama and why did you choose them?
Well , I have supported Al-Karamah since i was 12 years old , actually it's a funny story 'cause I live in another city than where Al-Karamah comes from ....
I live in Lattakia ( on the Syrian coast ) , and Al-Karamah comes from Homs ( in the middle of Syria ) .... but my grandparents are from Homs and somehow they gave me the love of this team ... but being in another city never was a barrier in my way of supporting my team ... now I'm a moderator in Al-Karamah fans site , and I travel to Homs ( about 2 hours away from my city ) to be in the stadium for every match ....
Who is your favourite player and why?
My favorite player is the ROCK OF DEFENSE Fabio , no special reasons .... but we have great memories with this player .... specially when we reached the final of AFC Championship in 2006
Football in Syria is a bit of a mystery to us - perhaps Thai football is the same for you -- so can you tell us: what is the standard of football? What size crowds do you have and how are the stadiums?
Football in Syria is the game number ONE ... almost everyone here loves football .... my team was created in 1928 ... so we have our roots in this sport .... many Syrian players are playing in Europe in Asia ... we have Syrian players in Sweden , Norway , Italy , Iran , Egypt , China , Indonesia and more .... so there are great Syrian players ...
about our fans , i think that you can check this topic to see some pics of our fans
there are some pics in it , and i can send you more if you want ...
about our stadium , capacity : 40,000 ... it lies in the middle of Homs
Do Syrian fans have any special customs or rituals for football games? For example, do fans exchange gifts with fans of the other team as we do in Thailand?
Well , to tell you the truth , this never happened before ... but i have this idea into my mind ... so if you are coming to Syria for this match , or any of your fans are coming ... maybe we can exchange some souvenirs ... so keep in touch with me about this please ...
As I know , there are no exact customs for our matches ... but we have our Ultras that is called ( ULTRAS BLUE SUN ) and they raise a big picture at the beginning of every match ... i will take photos for the one that they will raise in the next match to show you ...
for example , at the beginning of a match between Al-Karamah and Al-Wahda from UAE , about a year ago ... they raised this one.
What do you think about Muangthong United?
Muang-Thong is a very good team , I consider them number one in Thailand ,theyhas many many talented and very good foreign players. I saw many videos on the internet of your team and I liked the way they play especially Dangda, he is a really scary striker!
What do you think the score will be after the two games?
Of-course I have my emotions for my team and also my belief !! I think that it would end up 3-1 in the first leg for Al-Karamah and 1-0 in the second leg also for Al-Karamah
Anything you want to say to the Muangthong Fans?
Anything else you want to say?Muang-Thong fans are really great, I saw many photos and videos for the fans and I really like the way your fans shine in the stadium. I strongly hope that I can meet some of your fans here in Syria in the next match.
Thanks for Greg who interviewed me and I would also thank Thai people for their generosity and kindness. You guys are really friendly and nice , and I saw what I heard before about the all-time smile on your faces.
I really hope seeing your lovely smiling faces here in Syria for the next match , and dinner is on me!
Many thanks again to Ahmad and best wishes to him and his club.