By Sports Reporter/Doha
Lekhwiya head coach Djamel Belmadi has predicted a difficult match against Al Sailiya when the two teams meet in the Qatar Stars League today evening at Qatar Sports Club Stadium.
The defending champions are 11 points behind table toppers Al Rayyan after 16 matches and are aware that another defeat could well mean the end of their already-slim title chances this season.
Speaking to the press ahead of the match, Belmadi said; “Al Sailiya are a well-organized side, they have had a good victory against Meisameer and will be full of confidence.
“We have trained well for the match, although we will be without Yasser Ahmed who is still injured after his time with the Qatar U23 side, apart from this we are at full strength.”
He was asked about the impact of losing Slovakian winger Vladimir Weiss who moved to Al Gharafa on transfer deadline day. “Vladimir Weiss is a good player, but at Lekhwiya we do not look to just one player. We pride ourselves on the team collective, and we have shown that in recent results. I wish Vladimir all the best at Gharafa.
“We will fight to the very end for the league, Al Rayyan has a big lead at the moment, but this is football and it can quickly change” noted Belmadi when asked if Lekhwiya could reclaim the falcon shield.
Sailiya head coach Sami Trabelsi believes his side is well prepared ahead of their clash against second placed Lekhwiya.
“We have worked on several key areas of our game this week, I feel we are ready tactically to face a strong team like Lekhwiya,” said the Tunisian .
“The loss of Abdul Qadir Ilyas is a big one for us, he was a strong player for Sailiya. However his time with us with short, and I wish him the best at his new side,” confessed Trabelsi after Ilyas moved to Umm Salal on transfer deadline day.
When asked about the title race, Trabelsi was sure of only one winner. “I think now, with Al Rayyan’s lead the title race is over. However there is still plenty to play for with Qatar Cup and Relegation places.”
Meanwhile, Al Gharafa head coach Pedro Caixinha believes his side is well equipped to beat Al Arabi in the QSL match of the week for round 17.
“We have invested in our squad and have three brand new players in the side, I think they can make a big difference for us in the second half of the season,” said Caixinha
“We have to forget what happened in the recent past with Gharafa now, we are on a new path now and have good players to help us push up the table” claimed the Portuguese coach who has overseen two wins in his first two games with the Cheetahs.
Talking about his opponents in their next match Caixinha said, “The difference between the two sides is only a couple of places. I think that we have had good performances in recent weeks I think we have a good chance to get the win.” Al Arabi coach Gianfranco Zola has insisted that his side is in good form despite the recent draw with relegation threatened Qatar SC. “I am disappointed with the result last week, however my team is now ready for this match. I will be happy if our side can get a draw against a good side like Al Gharafa.”
“Al Gharafa has brought in some new players, but we have also made changes which will fit in with our play also. Our aim is to be in the top four, we will give our all for this goal in the second half of the season.”
Umm Salal vs Qatar Sports Club, 4.30pm at Qatar Sports Club
Lekhwiya vs Al Sailiya, 7.15pm at Qatar Sports Club
Al Gharafa vs Al Arabi, 7.15pm at Al Gharafa
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