Al Sadd coach Hussein Amotta (C) speaks to the media ahead of their Emir Cup quarter-final clash against Umm Salal.
By Sports Reporter/Doha
The race for honours in the Emir Cup begins in right earnest today with the big guns expected to sail through to the semi-finals.
After a series of elimination rounds, Umm Salal, Al Khor, Al Gharafa and Qatar Sports Club have joined the big four Al Sadd, Al Rayyan, Lekhwiya and El Jaish in the quarter-finals of Qatar’s richest tournament.
Al Sadd, of course, are the league champions, while Lekhwiya annexed the Heir Apparent Cup, Both teams, therefore, will be keen on a double when the Emir Cup final is held on May 19.
But before that Al Sadd will have to tackle Umm Salal in the last 8 today, a prospect that may look easy on paper but could prove tricky in actual play, as Al Sadd coach Hussein Amotta pointed out.
“Umm Salal are a decent team who will be not short on motivation because this is the Emir Cup, the most prestigious and richest football tournament in Qatar,” said Amotta, who guided Al Sadd to their 13th league title in April.
“We won the Qatar Stars League but lost out on the chance to win a double when we lost to Lekhwiya in the final of the Heir Apparent Cup, but we have got another opportunity in the Emir Cup,” said the Moroccan.
Umm Salal, of course, failed to make the top four of the QSL, but the fact that they finished fifth should be enough motivation for them.
“We were unlucky in the league not to have finished in the top four,” said Umm Salal’s new coach Alain Perrin. “But the Emir Cup is our opportunity to prove we belong right up there,” the Frenchman added.
Umm Salal finished their league engagements with 31 points from 22 matches to be placed fifth, six points behind the fourth-placed Al Rayyan.
Meanwhile, Lekhwiya coach Eric Gerets was keen to finish off the Qatar season in style after his success in the Heir Apparent Cup.
“Losing out on the league title was a major disappointment but we made amends somewhat by winning the Heir Apparent Cup. Now we have a great chance to prove we are the best team in Qatar by winning the Emir Cup,” the Belgian said.
Gerets added that Lekhwiya will be carrying a lot of confidence into today’s match against Al Gharafa. “Al Gharafa we know are the defending champions, but we are riding a wave of confidence, especially after our Heir Apparent Cup victory,” he said.
Al Sadd vs Umm Salal
Al Rayyan vs Al Khor
Lekhwiya vs Al Gharafa, El Jaish vs Qatar Sports Club
1. Lekhwiya coach Eric Gerets (R): Keen on a double.