By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira emphatically stated yesterday that his team will beat Al Ahli today and be crowned the 2018-19 season QNB Stars League champions.
Leaders Sadd need a victory at home against Ahli to win their 14th league title, the most in Qatar’s history. But the past history suggests Ferreira’s men have their task cut out against Ahli.
Sadd have been rampant this season beating most of the teams easily and have lost only one match. But that defeat incidentally was against Al Ahli in the first leg, so the Wolves have reasons to be wary of The Brigadiers.
But ahead of the match, Ferreira was upbeat about his team’s chances.
“Al Ahli beat us in the first leg and that will not happen again. I am confident in my players’ abilities to win the match and seal the title. We are ready to face Al Ahli,” the Portuguese manager said.
“My message to our fans is that the club management and all staff of the team are behind us in our match against Al Ahli and that we will win the title. We will do our best to make all Al Sadd fans happy,” he said.
Sadd have 51 points, four more than defending champions Al Duhail. They had a chance to seal the title at Al Duhail stadium last week, but were denied after being held to a 2-2 draw. But having restored their four point advantage at the top, Sadd can control their destiny. A victory today would hand them the crown, even if second-placed Duhail beat bottom-placed Al Kharaitiyat.
The outcome will largely depend on how best the Al Ahli’s defence tackles Sadd’s dynamic duo Baghdad Bounedjah and Akram Afif.
Meanwhile, Sadd left-back Abdelkarim Hassan was ruled out of the game as he has not recovered full fitness following a knock he picked up in the game against Al Sailiya last week.
Al Ahli also have much at stake in the match as they are level on 33 points with fourth-placed Al Rayyan. Al Ahli coach Ruben de la Barrera said his team will give their best to keep their top four chances alive. “The match against Al Sadd is a great new challenge for me and my team. They are the team closest to the title. It will be a strong game and we will bring out our best. We will not focus on Al Sadd. Instead, we will focus on our team and our preparations for a strong match. We will not be easy opponents. We will do our best,” the Spaniard said.
Duhail, who will be hoping for Al Sadd to slip up against Ahli, should have little problem in beating Kharaitiyat, who will be relegated if they lose tomorrow. Al Kharaitiyat has only 12 points, six less than 10th placed Al Khor and four less than 11th placed Qatar SC.
The Qatar Stars League decided to hold all matches of the penultimate on one day in order to give all 12 teams equal advantage. The final round of matches will be played either on 12th or 13th April. The kick-off timings and venues will be decided later. Tomorrow, four matches will be played at 6:10pm and two at 8:20pm, with Sadd and Duhail to play in early kick-off.
In other match, seventh-placed Al Gharafa (25 points) take on Al Khor (10th with 18 points) with an eye to improve their position even though they cannot finish among the top four this season. On the other hand, Al Khor are still not completely out of danger zone and will look to sustain the winning momentum, having defeated Kharaitiyat in the last round by a big margin.
Qatar SC, 11th with 16 points, face Al Arabi with relegation threat in mind. Al Arabi are sixth with 27 points. Al Rayyan and Al Sailiya will take the field with top-four finish at stake as the latter have only one point more than the former (33 points). Al Shahania will surely have a point to prove when they play Umm Salal.
6:10pm: Al Kharaitiyat vs Al Duhail at Al Ahli stadium, Al Khor vs Al Gharafa at Al Khor stadium, Al Sadd vs Al Ahli at Al sadd Stadium, Qatar SC vs Al Arabi at Qatar SC stadium
8:20pm: Al Rayyan vs Al Sailiya at Al Ahli stadium; Umm Salal vs Al Shahania (20:20) at Qatar SC stadium.
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