By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Sadd head coach Jesualdo Ferreira was a relieved man after his team’s win over Al Sailiya in the QNB Stars League on Saturday. Baghdad Bounedjah and Akram Afif struck either side of half-time as Al Sadd moved closer to their first league title in six years with a 2-0 win over Sailiya. They now have four-point lead over defending champions Al Duhail, after taking the team’s tally to 50.
It was Al Sadd’s 16th victory, the most by any team this season, but the Wolves coach Ferreira said it was the toughest match of the season for his team. “This was one of the toughest matches of the season for us. Winning this game gives us a huge boost for what is to come, after we played some intense games consecutively in the league. We didn’t lose except against Al Ahli and we are now edging closer to the league title,” the Portuguese manager said.
Ferreira said his players are struggling from fatigue which made the victory on Sunday even more pleasing. “My players are the ones who have played the most in the Qatari league. They played in the league, in the Champions League and with the national team. All this physical effort has a toll on the players and this did not help us today, making it difficult to score, like in the previous games,” Ferreira said
After being a goal down, Sailiya had the chance to equalise but Abdulkadir Ilyas’ penalty was saved by Al Sadd goalkeeper Saad al-Dossari. Sailiya also had goalkeeper Saoud al-Khater sent off following his foul on Akram in the 64th minute.
“It was not easy to play against ten men. Saad al-Dosari’s penalty save was the crucial factor which led to our win. “We are looking to win the remaining games. I cannot blame the players today. I am happy with the upcoming period of rest before the next game against the second placed Al Duhail. Our goal will be to win the remaining games and secure the title,” Ferreira said.
All eyes are now on the much-awaited battle between the big guns on March 30. Al Sadd will win the coveted league shield for a record-extending 14th time in history if they beat Al Duhail as the Wolves will have an unassailable lead over the Red Knights. Ferreira said: “The Duhail game will be like a big final for the Qatari league. Winning it will gives us the title. Our full focus will be on achieving that.”
Meanwhile on Sunday, Duhail survived a scare from Umm Salal as they came back from a goal down to script a 3-1 victory. A brace from Yousef El Arabi and Mohammed Muntari gave Duhail victory, while Lawrence Quaye was Umm Salal’s scorer.
Duhail Coach Rui Faria expressed his happiness with the victory. “We played a very difficult match and we knew it would be so against Umm Salal, who are a good team. They are defensively strong. But credit to my team in the second half as they played a well to get the win,” he said
“It’s an important win for us as it keeps us in the title race, since we are facing Al Sad in the next match. We have a responsibility now to win the remaining matches and everything is possible in football. The fighting spirit made the difference today,” Faria added.
Al Sailiya slipped from third to fourth position, while Umm Salal also went down from seventh to ninth. Al Rayyan now occupies the third spot after a 1-0 win over high-flying Al Khor, with Rodrigo Tabata netting the all-important goal. The Lions now have 33 points. Al Khor, who went into the game on the back of two consecutive victories, remained 11th with 15 points.
Al Kharaitiyat made it really big in their fight to avoid relegation as they defeated Qatar SC 1-0, with Valentin Lazar finding the winning goal. The Thunders thus completed a hat-trick of wins and moved to 12 points, only three less than 11th-placed Al Khor. Qatar SC, on the other hand, put themselves in trouble as they stayed on 16 points. Al Gharafa did well to beat Al Arabi 2-1 en route to climbing to seventh position from ninth.
New signing Wilfried Bony scored for Al Arabi before conceding an own goal. Ahmed Alaaeldin netted a goal for Al Gharafa, who now have 22 points. The Dream Team remained sixth in the standings on 27 points despite defeat.
Al Ahli and Al Shahania shared the spoils after a goalless draw to stay fifth and eighth with 29 and 20 points respectively. It was the only drawn encounter of 19th round, which witnessed 11 goals being scored as against 27 in Week 18.
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