Mohammed Ghaddar says JDT 'need to win' Malaysia Cup, MSL
Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) striker Mohammed Ghaddar has revealed that a disagreement with the Lebanese football authorities over the captaincy of the national team was the reason behind his mysterious absence from his nation's Asian Cup qualifier against Malaysia last month.
Ghaddar missed the match, even though it was played on his new home ground at Larkin Stadium in Johor Bahru.
The Malaysian Super League's top scorer was expected to start for Lebanon in the United Arab Emirates 2019 qualifier, having scored in his country's previous meeting with Hong Kong.
But a dispute with the Lebanese federation president, Hachem Haidar, meant the 32-year-old was a surprise exclusion from the squad who eventually won 2-1 in Malaysia coach Nelo Vingada's first game at the helm.
"I have a little problem with the president [of the federation [for the captaincy," Ghaddar said. "Now I [should be] the captain, but for the last two games he didn't give me the captaincy and I told the president: 'You don't give me the captaincy, I'm not coming.'
"This is a little problem and for this game against Malaysia, this is why I didn't play. I wanted to play but they wouldn't give me the captaincy."
Lebanon are attempting to qualify for the Asian Cup finals for the first time since making their one and only appearance at the competition when they hosted the finals back in 2000.
They lead their group, which features Malaysia, Hong Kong and North Korea, with a perfect record of two wins out of two and the Lebanese take on the North Koreans in Pyongyang in their next match on Sep. 5.
Despite the ongoing dispute, Ghaddar insisted he plans to return for his national side as he attempts to join Lebanese legend Roda Antar as his country's leading international scorer.
"Of course I wanted to play, but it was a problem for the president and the coach," he said. "The coach asked me to play. I've played for the national team from 2003, for 14 years. And they don't give me the captaincy, so I'm not coming.
"In the national team I have scored 19 goals. Number one is Roda with 20 and I have 19 so I need one goal more."
On Saturday evening, Ghaddar claimed his second goal since joining JDT from Kelantan in late May to take his total for the season to 19 in 13 games, as the club returned to MSL action with a 2-0 win over Penang that moved them nine points clear of Pahang and Kedah at the summit with just eight games remaining.
The well-travelled striker has signed an 18-month contract with JDT, and he has set his sights on winning as much as possible over the duration of his deal.
"I'm in Johor and I'm in this team and I need to play well and be scoring and be in the game," he said. "We need to win the league, we need to win the cup... you need to win it all."
JDT will host Group D rivals Sarawak in their opening match of the 2017 Malaysia Cup on Tuesday night.
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch