The lady Cedars have recently seen several of their members securing try-outs and even moves to the leagues of the US and Europe, while midfielder Lili Iskandar was one of the first to leave when she joined Danish Elitdivisionen champions, HB Køge, last July.
Iskandar has become one of the most renowned names in Lebanese women’s football after being named top scorer at the 2019 WAFF U-18 championship, where Lebanon brought home the trophy. She was also a resident starter for reigning Lebanese Women’s Football League champions SAS for the past three years.
The 19-year-old was then an easy pick for the senior national team and has made nine appearances with the squad so far, especially in the 2019 WAFF senior competition, where she helped the cedars finish in third place.
Her efforts for self-improvement didn’t stop there, as Iskandar was also working on landing offers from European clubs, which proved complicated with Covid travel restrictions. However, a familiar face at the HB Køge men’s team staff linked the player to their women’s team who were intent on presenting her a position and a one-year contract.
Before moving to Denmark, the forward was aware of the level difference she was entering. “I didn’t know how much better [than Lebanon] it was until I came here”, implying that not only did they have the upper hand physically, but mentally as well with decision making skills.
“I know it’s a wonderful opportunity and it looks great on the outside, but the reality of it is very tough on the field and outside of it.” Understandably so, as Iskandar has had to adapt to a higher level of training and while also dealing with homesickness, culture shock, and university work.
Even though Iskandar is known as a great player in Lebanon, another challenge she faced with her club was having to prove herself all over again to a new team that is leading the Danish league as well as participating in the Women’s Champions League.
The forward’s latest appearance with the national team came in October 2021, only a few months after joining HB Køge, where she scored her first senior goal in a 3-0 win over Guam in the 2022 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
“It had only been 4 months [since I joined] but I already felt the difference in my game. I can still improve so much and hopefully help the national team even more.”
Iskandar advises her Lebanese teammates that individual training is just as important as team training to personally improve and be able to compete at higher levels. “We have so many talents in Lebanon but all we need is hard work, determination, and patience.”