By Sports Reporter Doha
Having heaved a sigh of relief after Al Sadd edged past Hienghene Sport on Wednesday, head coach Xavi Hernandez is dreaming of playing European champions Liverpool in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019.
The Qatari giants had to dig deep in their 3-1 win over Oceania champions Hienghene in the first round at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium and now take on Mexican side Monterrey – the CONCACAF Champions League winners – in the second round match tomorrow.
Xavi is expecting an improvement from his players, who lacked sharpness in front of goal against Hienghene. The Qatar champions needed extra time to defeat the New Caledonian minnows. After taking the lead through Baghdad Bounedjah in the first half, Sadd lost their advantage after the break as Amy Roine equalised for the Oceania champions. Abdelkarim Hassan and Pedro Miguel, however, scored a goal each in extra-time to steer Al Sadd to the second round.
Xavi admitted his side was lucky not to face penalties against Hienghene. “We wasted a number of easy chances. We were not able to score. In extra time, we managed to score and we got lucky that we did not go to penalties. I am happy to progress to the next round of the tournament,” the Spaniard said.
“We have dreams and goals in the upcoming game. We are 90 minutes away from the semifinal and we will strive to achieve our goal in the next game against Monterrey,” he added.
Xavi, who took over as the head coach after playing four seasons with Sadd, said his players need to be at their best against Monterrey. The Mexican side edged out Tigres 2-1 over two legs to win their continental title for the first time since winning the tournament three times in a row between 2011 and 2013. That streak of success in the CONCACAF means Los Rayados have significant experience of the Club World Cup, with their trip to Qatar their fourth participation.
“I know Monterrey. They have played very well after the change of coach. They are a quick side with many players in attack and are also good from set pieces. They are a very good side. If we play like we did today, things will be tough for us but if it’s our day, we can perform well,” said Xavi, who has won two Club World Cup title during his stint with La Liga giants Barcelona.
“The problem against Hienghene was a psychological one, after we missed a number of chances and lost confidence. This is natural in football. I am happy with the number of chances we created and this is something we need to build on in the next game. We must have wasted over 30 chances. We now need to work on competing hard in the next game,” the midfield great said.
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