Qatar’s Al Sadd SC will aim to avoid an early slip-up when they face Sharjah FC in their opening AFC Champions League Group B tie at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium today.
Al Sadd will be on a mission to redeem themselves after suffering group stage elimination last season. The 2011 AFC Champions League winners won’t be lacking match fitness going into the tie, having won twice and drawn once in the 2023-24 Qatar Stars League.
Having also been upstaged domestically by Al Duhail SC in 2022-23, Al Sadd are hungry for trophies and Sharjah can expect a tough contest.
Bruno Miguel, the coach of Al Sadd, emphasised the readiness of the team to face Emirati side Sharjah, in their first-round match.
“We are fully prepared to face Sharjah tomorrow. We anticipate a strong and well-organized opponent with high-quality players,” Bruno said yesterday.
“We expect a very tough match, as is the case with all AFC Champions League games. This tournament is special for us and for the fans of Al Sadd. We respect our opponents, and our goal is to secure the first three points in the tournament.”
Regarding the absences in the team, Bruno said, “certainly, we have some absences, but we have trust in every player in the team. Our aim is to secure the win. Our goal for this season is to win all the matches. We want to go as far as possible in this tough tournament. There are no easy matches in football, and the first encounter is a significant challenge for us. The team that makes fewer mistakes will achieve victory.”
Al Sadd’s defender Tarek Salman described the opening match against the Emirati side as strong and challenging.
“The opening match is always tough, and we aim to give our best performance. Sharjah is a strong team that has achieved two domestic titles. We are excited about the Asian tournament returning to Al Sadd’s stadium for the first time since 2020,” Salman said.
“Opening matches are always difficult, and we must avoid mistakes and deliver a good performance to secure the first three points at our home ground. We are very enthusiastic and aware of the significance of these matches. We hope it will be a good start for us,” he said.
Sharjah, however, have already been tested in this season’s AFC Champions League after having to navigate two rounds of matches to qualify for the group stage.
They kicked off their domestic campaign with a 4-3 win over Al Ittihad Kalba but will head into their AFC Champions League opener on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Al Wasl.
In the other Group B tie Jordan’s Al Faisaly and FC Nasaf of Uzbekistan will be determined to kick off their respective campaigns on a winning note today.
While Nasaf have AFC Champions League history behind them, Al Faisaly will be fired up to mark their group stage debut on a high note. Al Faisaly are just the second Jordanian team to play in the group stage and will enter the tie in decent form, having kicked off their domestic campaign with three wins against one defeat.
With home ground advantage, Al Faisaly will fancy their chances of a winning start against Nasaf.
Al Sadd coach Bruno Miguel (centre) and defender Tarek Salman (left) addressing the media persons yesterday, on the eve of their AFC Champions League Group B match against Sharjah FC.