Last month, Mohamed Al-Taay was announced as our first off-season signing.
The defensive midfielder joined the Nix on a two-year deal from A-League rivals Newcastle Jets, where he made 30 appearances across all competitions.
Here are five things to know about new signing Mo Al-Taay:
He’s a coffee lover
“I love coffee” – Perfect Mo! Sounds like you’ll fit right into life in Wellington with the capital’s number of highly rated cafes! He loves an extra shot oat latte. We also needed to know what Mo didn’t like and that’s a traditional long black.
Mo is a ball winning midfielder
Mo has been described by new head coach Giancarlo Italiano as a ball winner. The 22-year-old was a leading player in most successful tackles per game last season. “A big strength of Mo’s is he wins a lot of ball in midfield,” Italiano said. “We need aggressive sixes that will win a lot of ball and that’s irrespective of what formation we’re playing.”
He’s proud of his Iraqi heritage
Mo was born in Australia after his parents fled from Iraq in 1994. His family are practising Muslims and they pray five times a day. During the holy month of Ramadan he and his family fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset. Religion is important to Mo: “it gives me confidence, strength and the focus to play football”.
Mo was coached by Chiefy at Blacktown City
He grew up in Campbelltown in south-west Sydney and played his junior football at Blacktown City, when Chiefy was the club’s head of football. “I’ve known Mo since he was 14 from my time at Blacktown,” Italiano said. “He was a tenacious character then and I feel like he’s quite the right qualities to come to us and do very well.”
He loves his mum’s cooking
Who doesn’t love their own mother’s cooking? Mo is a big fan of his mum’s cuisine. His favourite dishes are either a Dolma or a Tashreeb, which are both Iraqi meals. The Dolma is made up of short or medium grain rice mixed with ground lamb (or beef), finely diced vegetables, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses and a few spices, and is wrapped in leaves. Tashreeb is a traditional Middle Eastern recipe that consists of chicken cooked in a tomato stew with carrots, potatoes, and eggplant. The stew is then served over bread, which is soaked in the broth of the stew giving a wet and soft texture.
Mo will link up with the team ahead of pre-season training which commences in July.