Every game “like a derby” as Al-Taay looks to keep spot on run home

After featuring numerous times off the bench in the first half of the season, Mo Al-Taay is beginning to look to make a central midfield spot his own after starting alongside Angus Thurgate in our past two matches, including our clean sheet win over the Phoenix last Friday.

Recruited from Western Sydney during the off-season, Al-Taay has impressed with his hard-nosed, combative and aggressive style of play and featured for 62 minutes last outing, completing 38 of his attempted 40 passes.

It may have been just his second time featuring in the starting line-up, but based on his recent performances, it’s a deserved position for the 21-year-old and one he isn’t going to give up easily.

“I’ve worked very hard for this opportunity,” said Al-Taay.

“There’s a lot of competition so I need to always be ready. There’s a lot of quality in our squad.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I have here. I’m grateful to the coaching staff for believing in me. I’m happy I’m playing at the moment, and I just have to make sure I’m focused to keep my spot.

“Right now, it’s about not getting complacent and staying on my toes because we’ve got a lot of competition. Every chance I get, I need to make sure I do everything for the team.”

Having made only eight A-League appearances in his career so far, Al-Taay secured his first win as a starter when we defeated the Phoenix.  

Just like that match was, every game from here on out is considered ‘must-win’, and the youngster said he and the team were well aware of the importance of our upcoming match as we head into the pointy end of the season.

“It felt good to get the win and clean sheet in front of our home fans,” he said. “It was amazing. We always want that.”

“It was a good result and something we’ve been working on defensively – staying organised and doing the little details right – I think we did that on the weekend. It’s just about consistency now and that’s the main focus for us.

“Every game counts now, every point matters…Every game is kind of like a derby. It means a lot. We have to make sure we have that mentality.”

Although Al-Taay is optimistic on retaining his starting position, he made mention that his main focus is to add to the team, however he can and regardless of his role.

The midfielder listed a few key areas that he knows he needs to continue progressing in if he is to do that.

“I need to help the boys however I can,” he said. “Whether I’m starting or come on, however many minutes I get, I make sure I do everything I can for the team.

“It’s about knowing my job and doing what the Boss (Papas) wants from me. I need to be organised and move the ball quick, win my challenges, read the game and help the boys in front and behind us.

“I’ve been patient. I’m ready for whenever the chances come.”