By Sports Reporter Doha
Much is at stake when Al Duhail face Al Rayyan today in the most high-profile fixture in Week 3 of QNB Stars League. The kick-off is at 19:05 at the Al Janoub Stadium.
Both teams are strong title contenders, so the encounter promises to be a thriller.
Al Duhail and Al Rayyan would be aiming to make the most out of the encounter, having already dropped points.
Al Duhail beat Qatar Sports Club 2-1 in the first round, but were then held to a 1-1 draw by Al Arabi, whereas Al Rayyan were locked in a 2-2 draw with Umm Salal before being held goalless by Al Gharafa.
Al Duhail are keen to regain their lost glory, having finished as runners-up behind Al Sadd in last season’s QNB Stars League. So every point counts for The Red Knights in the gruelling competition.
On the other hand, Al Rayyan will be eager to be back among titles. The Lions could finish only fourth last season, behind Al Sailiya.
Al Duhail have the services of star players such as goalkeeper Amin Lecomte, Bassam al-Rawi, Ahmed Yasser, Luiz Martin, Muhanad Ali, Paulo Edmilson, Karim Boudiaf, Assim Madibo, Ali Afif and Yousef Msakni.
The Al Rayyan star parade includes goalkeeper Fahd Younis, Mohamed Alaaeldin, Franck Com, Yacine Brahimi, Rodrigo Tabata, Abdelaziz Hatem, Lee Jae-Ik, Mohamed Juma, Gabriel Mercado, Dame Traore, Mohammed Badr Sayyar, Mowafaq Awad and Abdulrahman al-Harazi.
The tactical battle between coaches Rui Faria (Al Duhail) and Diego Aguirre (Al Rayyan) will be the sub-plot of the game.
Uruguayan Aguirre is back as Al Rayyan coach, having managed them for two seasons starting in 2011. He had helped them to Amir Cup triumph in 2013.
Portuguese Faria, who replaced Tunisian Nabil Maaloul as Al Duhail coach in January this year, is trying hard to bring the best of his players.
Both clubs, especially Al Rayyan as was seen during their game against Al Gharafa a couple of weeks ago, have huge fan following and that adds spice to the contest.
Al Duhail coach Faria admitted that the match would be tough.
“This match against one of Qatar’s big clubs, Al Rayyan, will be very difficult. They’ve made some special recruitments this season. I think we’ll be facing an organised team. We’re also a strong and big team, we’re always looking for victory,” he told reporters at his pre-match press conference. “We’ve analysed the opponents, so that we’ve the right strategy that’ll enable us to win. That’s our target for this match.
“Big teams have the advantage of having many international players, but them joining their national teams on FIFA dates is normal.
“If we put pressure on the players, it won’t always help. We want to score in all games and deal well with many opportunities that we create.
“We play all games with full seriousness, this match will be no exception. Our draw with Al Arabi in the last round won’t have any impact on the performance of players, although we deserved to win that game. Now, our desire is to achieve victory,” said Faria.
His counterpart Aguirre also echoed the same sentiments.
“We’re going to play a very strong game against a very strong team. I feel happy about the work done in the last two weeks. I expect the game to be exciting and beautiful as well,” said the Uruguayan.
“Our team dropped some points, but we’ve a chance to make up for it even though we’re facing tough competitors. I’m confident in the abilities of our players and my team can perform well and collect points.
“We aren’t concerned with something that isn’t available now. It’s true that we need another player, he may join us after a week or more. This isn’t the time to talk about it.
“We’ve to focus on the task on hand. What’s happening is that we’re working hard and the results will come,” said Aguirre.
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