HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani presenting the Emir Cup trophy to Al Rayyan skipper Fabio Cesar. Al Rayyan defeated Al Sadd 2-1 in the final played at the Khalifa Stadium yesterday. HH the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani; HH Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, the personal representative of the Emir; HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, the private adviser to the Emir; HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa; HE the Speaker of the Advisory (Shura) Council Mohamed bin Mubarak al-Khulaifi; and a number of ministers attended the match.It is the sixth time that Al Rayyan claims the Emir Cup. Al Rayyan won it previously in 1999, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2011. The team has reached the final on 15th occasions. Al Rayyan’s win prevented Al Sadd from achieving the double this season. They had won the league earlier this season. Al Rayyan took the lead as early as the sixth minute through Nilmar Da Silva. Three minutes later, Fabio Cesar doubled Al Rayyan’s lead courtesy of a penalty. Spanish and Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez pulled one back for Al Sadd at the 55th minute. Al Rayyan managed however to hold onto the win to seal the title. PICTURE: Noushad Thekkayil
By Anil John/Doha
It is somewhat ironic that a team whose Arabic name literally translates as “gate of heaven” had to spend the last few months in what can be described as footballing hell. But as the domestic season drew to a dramatic close last night, the agony of the past gave way to renewed confidence and hope for the future. It’s rightly said that paradise is for those who persevere.
Saving their best for the last, Al Rayyan produced a slick and energetic display to beat Al Sadd 2-1 and win the prestigious Emir Cup in front of a near capacity crowd at the Khalifa Stadium. Having established a comfortable 2-0 cushion inside the first 10 minutes, courtesy of goals from Nilmar and Fabio Cesar, the Lions had the Wolves playing second fiddle for most of the match before Raul struck from the edge of the box in the second session to restore some credibility for Al Sadd.
Al Rayyan just about managed to finish fourth in the Qatar Stars League and failed to make the final of the Heir Apparent Cup before crashing out of the Asian Champions League despite the presence of several Brazilian-born players in their side. Failure to win the Emir Cup would have also meant they would miss out on the next Asian Champions League which would have been a complete disaster for a team with the largest fan following in Qatar.
But such fears were banished into oblivion last night as it was Al Sadd who came off second best. Al Sadd coach Hussein Amotta, who said before the match he would readily congratulate his rivals if they win the Emir Cup, did exactly that.
“We had our chances but all credit to Al Rayyan. They had us on the defensive early in the match and from then onwards it was an uphill battle for us,” Amotta, who had won the Emir Cup as a player for Al Sadd, said.
Al Rayyan coach Diego Aguirre was a relieved man. “It was a great day for us,” said the Uruguayan. “After missing out on the League and Heir Apparent Cup, we were desperate to win the Emir Cup. We worked hard and all our efforts paid off.”
The attack-minded Al Sadd went a goal down as early as the sixth minute with their backline caught napping when Al Rayyan skipper Fabio Cesar found himself perfectly placed on the right to slip the ball onto the path of Nilmar who seemed a tad slow to react. But with the Al Sadd goalkeeper Sadd al-Sheeb woefully out of position, Nilmar did well to tap the ball in to give his team the crucial lead.
Al Sadd were rattled by the early reverse but barely had they rediscovered their poise when they were done in by a penalty. Nilmar was brought down by Abdulkarim Hassan and skipper Cesar easily found the net from the spot in the ninth minute.
There were spells of lacklustre displays by both teams after that and although Al Sadd’s Khalfan Ibrahim and Younus Mahmood occasionally tested Al Rayyan goalkeeper Omar Barry, they couldn’t find the net in the remainder of the first session.
Al Sadd, however, came back strongly after resumption with Raul and Khalfan showing renewed vigour. With Mohamed Kasola leaving his defending position to contribute to the Al Sadd cause, the Al Rayyan goal appeared constantly under pressure.
It was during one such tense moment that the Al Rayyan defence caved in when Raul passed the ball to Kasola on the right in the 56th minute and the Ghana-born naturalised Qatari relayed it back to the Spaniard who easily slotted to goalie Barry’s right.
Al Sadd then threw their all into the match keeping the Al Rayyan defence on their toes but luck evaded them. In the 63rd minute, Khalfan’s delectable 30-yard chip from the right found Nadir Belhadj in perfect position, but the Algerian inexplicably went wide from point blank range with goalie Barry completely beaten.
Barry, however, came to Al Rayyan’s defence a few minutes later, punching away a dangerous lob from Belhadj. There was tension in the air as Al Sadd got a bonus in the form of six minutes of added time, but Al Rayyan saw off the tricky spell to ensure their sixth Emir Cup title.
HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani gave away the trophy to the Al Rayyan team. Medals and mementos were also awarded to the players and officials from both teams. HH the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani was also present on the occasion.
1) Al Rayyan players celebrate with the trophy after beating Al Sadd in the Emir Cup football final at the Khalifa Stadium yesterday.
2) Al Rayyan players and officials celebrate the win.
3) Al Sadd’s Raul (right) in action.
4) Rayyan’s Nilmar celebrates his goal.
5) Rayyan coach Diego Aguirre. PICTURES: Noushad ThekkayilLast updated:
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