30 Aug 2021
Brothers Robert and Felix Melki play for Lebanon
They’ve helped the Cedars obtain some notable feats
The pair communicate in regards to the expertise of taking part in collectively and their World Cup hopes
Over time, the world of soccer has witnessed a lot of brotherly pairings acting on the identical pitch, even with their nationwide groups at FIFA World Cup™ finals.
This was the case throughout the ‘Miracle of Bern’ in 1954, through which Fritz and Ottmar Walter represented the victorious Germans, and on the World Cup in 1966, the place the Charlton siblings made a considerable contribution to England’s victory. Different worldwide appearances by footballing brothers embrace the De Boers (Netherlands), the Laudrups (Denmark), the Ayews (Ghana) and the Hazards, who each competed for Belgium at Russia 2018.
A number of months after that World Cup, Swedish-born brothers Robert and Felix Melki loved a second they’d dreamed about their complete lives, after they performed alongside one another in a world match, having acquired a call-up from the Lebanese Soccer Federation for a pleasant towards Uzbekistan.
In an unique interview with FIFA.com, they talked about what it felt like to drag on their nation’s jersey on the similar time.
“Our first worldwide match collectively was an ideal expertise,” mentioned Felix. “Getting a call-up to the nationwide staff for a pleasant offered me with a whole lot of pleasure; it was a giant step in our footballing careers. And I used to be so proud to signify Lebanon, my nation.”
Robert added: “It was so wonderful to play in a national-team sport collectively. For me, it was an ideal honour to be known as up. It was a brand new and wonderful expertise – one thing we’ll always remember.”
Since that memorable match in November 2018, Robert and Felix have helped Lebanon obtain a lot of notable outcomes, together with qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the place they each starred of their staff’s three group matches. They subsequently performed a key function in propelling the Cedars to the third and ultimate spherical of the Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Given the upturn in fortunes that the staff has loved because the emergence of the profitable siblings, it’s maybe inevitable that they’re now regarded by some pretty much as good luck charms. “It’s laborious to say if we’ve introduced some additional fortune, however there’s little doubt that we have been a strong addition to the staff, and that we have a tendency to provide our all and combat for the jersey,” mentioned Felix, smiling.
Robert, in the meantime, opted for a extra forthright response to the query: “We’ve achieved quite a bit since becoming a member of the squad, and that’s a constructive factor, however I don’t suppose we’ve essentially introduced any luck. We’re the form of gamers who give 100 per cent and all the time attempt to help the staff. We do this collectively, and that’s why we’ve been in a position to get this far within the World Cup qualifying marketing campaign.”
Robert, the elder of the duo, started his profession in 2011 with Swedish aspect Syrianska, and he was joined there by Felix two years later. After spending a few seasons aside, they have been reunited at one other Swedish outfit, Eskilstuna, previous to Robert packing his baggage for Qatar, the place he has plied his commerce because the finish of the Asian Cup. Throughout this time, Felix has primarily remained in Sweden, apart from a quick foray in Norwegian soccer.
“Getting the chance to play together with your brother is the best feeling,” remarked Robert, who, like Felix, is an admirer of Yaya and Kolo Toure. “We’ve performed for a similar membership staff two or thrice in our profession. And with the nationwide staff it all the time fills you with pleasure to have your brother alongside you, battling to attain the identical purpose.
“Once we have been youngsters, we dreamed of taking part in for Lebanon collectively. Representing your nation is one thing that each one footballers fantasise about. Now it’s taking place, and we all the time attempt to carry out to the perfect of our talents. It’s a dream come true, actually.”
After participating within the 2019 Asian Cup, they performed within the second spherical of AFC qualifiers for Qatar 2022, and so they have each been included within the checklist of gamers known as as much as a Dubai coaching camp forward of their opening third-round match versus United Arab Emirates on 2 September.
Regardless of the powerful activity that awaits them in Group A, the place they are going to face Iran, Korea Republic, UAE, Iraq and Syria, the Melkis are eager to emphasize that the Cedars should not simply there to make up the numbers.
“We’re conscious that there are good groups in our group, however we all know we’re able to getting good outcomes,” mentioned Felix. “We’re extraordinarily hopeful, and we’re going to do every little thing we will to qualify.”
His older brother added: “It doesn’t truly matter which group we’ve been drawn in. The benefit for us is that almost all matches can be pretty shut by. There received’t be lengthy journeys to take care of, and we’ll be capable of put together effectively. It’ll be a case of 11 versus 11 for 90 minutes, and as we all know, something can occur then.”
After the UAE match, Lebanon will journey to face Korea Republic on 7 September, in what is bound to be a testing fixture. The Melki brothers beforehand carried out collectively twice towards the Taegeuk Warriors within the second spherical, and an extra assembly with these formidable opponents has offered them with extra motivation.
“South Korea have a robust staff,” mentioned Robert. “We already got here up towards them a few occasions within the second spherical, and we did fairly effectively. We all know how they play and vice versa. I hope we may give them a great sport once more. I don’t know if taking part in them is a bonus for us or them, as a result of we all know one another effectively – each groups are in the identical scenario.”
If issues go the best way the Melki brothers are hoping for, then by the top of the qualifying marketing campaign, Lebanon can have booked a spot on the FIFA World Cup for the primary time of their historical past, one thing that Robert, who performs his membership soccer within the host nation, is particularly enthusiastic about.
“Taking part in in Qatar is unbelievable, as a result of there are a whole lot of new stadiums and services,” defined the 28-year-old defender. “The preparations for the World Cup actually provide the feeling that it’s going to be an ideal occasion. Hopefully we will obtain our purpose of qualifying to play right here in Qatar, which goes to be an excellent host.”