By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Rayyan and Al Sadd will face-off in the QNB Stars League second leg’s high-profile ‘Qatar Clasico’ Saturday at the Al Sadd Stadium. Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira called the fixture as the biggest in Qatar, and said his players were motivated to give their best. Al Sadd continue to lead the table with 41 points with Al Rayyan in third position with 30 points. But the match bears significance due to the history between both the sides.
Al Sadd is the leader among Qatari clubs in terms of titles won and achievements made at the national, regional and continental levels, while Al Rayyan have been a major force on Qatar’s football scene. The Qatar Clasico is not only important for these two clubs, but also for the Qatar Stars League, which is putting in every effort towards making it a grand success. Both teams are on a high after winning in the last round, Al Sadd defeating Al Ahli 6-2 and Al Rayyan beating Al Arabi 3-1. “It’s the biggest fixture in Qatar and we are very motivated. I have nothing else to say other than that the fans will have a big role to play in this match. I hope they all will support us strongly,” Ferreira said yesterday.
“I think the pressure will be on our rivals more than Al Sadd. We are the leaders and the difference of two points with Al Duhail does not mean much in football, but we are determined to win all remaining matches in our bid to win the title,” the Portuguese manager added.
Al Sadd may be without injured Xavi Hernandez and Boualem Khoukhi, but they have the likes of Baghdad Bounedjah, Akram Afif, Pedro, Hassan al-Haydos, Hamed Ismail, Abdulkarim Hassan, Tareq Salman and Salem al-Hajri.
Al Rayyan will miss suspended captain Rodrigo Tabata. However, they will have the services of Venezuelan Gelmin Rivas, Brazilian Luka, South Korean Koh Myong-Jin and Sebastian Soria. Rivas has been sensational since his switch to Qatar in the last month’s transfer window.
The Venezuelan striker has already scored four goals in two matches for Rayyan and Ferreira was impressed by what he has seen so far, but at the same time wasn’t too worried about what his team could face today.
“Rivas is proving productive. But are not concerned about a particular player. Our goal is winning the league title. Al Rayyan are a great team that likes to play an open game and we are ready to play with all strength,” said Ferreira.
Al Rayyan coach Bulent Uygun said fatigue could be a factor for his players after his players were involved in AFC Champions League play-off against Iranian side Saipa, which they won to qualify for the group stage. “Our players are suffering from exhaustion after our AFC Champions League play-off win. Al Sadd are a strong team with many prominent players, The game will be strong and exciting, and I hope both teams will offer a good level,” he said.
“There are a lot of star players in Al Sadd. But we will play to win. The main thing is it is a big clasico between the two teams. We started preparing for the Al Sadd match soon after our victory over Saipa in the AFC Champions League. I think Al Sadd can be defeated. We will miss the services of players Tabata, Omar Barri and Daniel Goumou. However, we have substitute players who can make up for their absences,” said Bulent.
In the day’s first match today, defending champions Al Duhail will take on Al Gharafa in a heavyweight clash at the Al Gharafa Stadium.
Al Gharafa will look to put behind the disappointment of losing 1-2 to Umm Salal in the last round, while Al Duhail cannot afford any slip-up if they are to remain in title contention. The Red Knights are second with 39 points, two less than leaders Al Sadd. Al Gharafa, coached by Frenchman Christian Gourcuff, are eighth.
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