Al Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez praised Al Shahania as an ‘excellent team’ ahead of the QNB Stars League clash between the two sides at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium Saturday. The Wolves go into the game with a tally of three points after a 4-1 win over Al Wakrah in their opening game. Al Shahania are pointless after losing 0-3 to Al Gharafa last weekend. “It will be a very tough match against an excellent team. We are playing for the win and the three points. I am happy with our performance and the team is improving from game to game. The competition in the league is tough. Only Al Sadd and Al Gharafa can still have six points at the end of the week,” Xavi said at the pre-match press conference Friday.
“Every match is different. Shahania is an organised side, with a good coach. The match against them will be difficult. If we think otherwise, we will suffer a lot. Shahania’s result in their opening game is not a measure of their quality,” the Spaniard added.
South Korean midfielder Nam Tae-hee will be unavailable for Sadd as he is still recuperating from a muscle injury, while Yasir Abubakar will also miss the game due to the death of his father. Meanwhile, Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah is set to make his first domestic appearance this season, after serving out a two-match suspension.
Xavi hoped Nam Tae-hee can return fully fit in fortnight’s time. “We are waiting for Nam Tae-hee’s his return. He is one of the best players in Asia and can always create the difference. He is getting better quickly. He needs 10-15 days to return and when he is fit, we will depend on him. Currently, we have many excellent players who can give their best,” the former Barcelona midfielder said.
Asked about Al Sadd’s defeat to Al Nassr in the Champions League, Xavi said: “We played well against in the first half, despite the errors we committed. In the second half, things were balanced. We learned from our mistakes and we will study them ahead of the return leg. Our focus now is on the league games.”
Meanwhile, Shahania coach Jose Murcia said his team were looking for ‘positive result’. “We’ve put behind the result of our first game completely behind us. We’re looking for a positive result and will stay focused on our next match against Al Sadd,” he said.
“We know that we’ll have a very difficult confrontation against a strong team. We’ll play according to our capabilities and we’ll push our players to show their real level, so that we get one or more points against Al Sadd,” Murcia added.
In early kick-off Saturday, Al Ahli take on Al Sailiya at the Al Janoub Stadium. Sailiya were held to a 1-1 draw by Al Khor, while Al Ahli suffered a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Al Arabi last week.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, Sailiya coach Sami Trabelsi said his team was focusing on correcting the mistakes from previous match. “We had wished for a positive result against Al Khor. At the same time, draw is better than defeat. It’s normal to find some difficulties at the beginning of the league because of the presence of more than seven new players in the team,” he said
“We’re focusing on correcting mistakes, especially in attack. Against Al Ahli, it won’t be easy. We’ll put up a spirited fight. Our new Moroccan player Mubarak Boussoufa is a big name. He can control the midfield and will be a valuable addition to the league and Al Sailiya,” added Trabelsi.
Al Ahli coach Ruben de la Barrera said his side will go all out for victory against Sailiya. “Al Sailiya are a good team, but we focused on correcting the mistakes that we made in our game against Al Arabi in the opening week, that resulted in us losing points,” he said “I’ve complete confidence in our professional players. They’ve quality. Just because we lost to Al Arabi, there were talks about our professionals. We’ve a very good bunch of players and we’ve confidence in them. They need more time,” Barrera added.
Al Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez.