By Sports Reporter/Doha
Coach Xavi Hernandez hopes there would be no drop in Al Sadd’s performance as the defending champions take on Al Shahania in the QNB Stars League today.
Sadd are on a high following their triumph last week in the 2020 Qatar Cup, where they dominated Al Duhail en route to winning the final by a 4-0 margin. The Wolves had defeated Al Rayyan 4-1 in the semifinal. Sadd are currently third in the standings with 24 points, six less than leaders Al Duhail and four adrift of second-placed Al Rayyan.
While Xavi’s was impressed with his team’s recent form, he warned his players not take Shahania, who are battling to save relegation, lightly.
“The match against Shahania is difficult for us. We may be favourites to win on paper, but we find it difficult to win such matches as it has happened against Wakrah and Qatar SC. So tomorrow’s match is very important,” the Spaniard said.
“We are going through some high moments in the current period, and I hope there will be no drop in level. Al Rayyan’s loss against Al Gharafa is a positive result for us as it gives us an opportunity to close gap against top teams. We will continue the same approach to compete strongly for the league title. Tomorrow’s match is very dangerous, especially all the teams that face us are motivated,” he added
Sadd followed up their Qatar Cup success with a 2-1 win over Al Khor last Tuesday in a league match deferred from Week 7 due to their AFC Champions League commitment. Xavi confirmed Sadd will miss Gabi and Tareq Salman due to injuries.
Meanwhile, Shahania are in danger zone alongside Al Khor and Umm Salal and are struggling to stay afloat. Shahania are 11th with eight points, having won only match so far. Jose Murcia’s wards could score their first victory in this season’s league only in Week 12 when they upset Al Gharafa. In the first leg, Sadd had thrashed Shahania 7-1, and it could be a one-sided affair again.
On the eve of the match, however, Murcia said Shahania has nothing to fear and was confident in the capabilities of his players. “It is a difficult and undoubtedly an important game. We will play against the best team in Qatar actually. We must focus to be strong in defence. We have nothing to fear, we must forget our defeat against Al Sadd in the first leg and I am fully confident in the capabilities of our players,” he said.
In another match today, Umm Salal face Al Khor at the Al Gharafa Stadium. The game is crucial for Umm Salal as they are at the bottom of the table with only five points.
Even a change at the helm, Moroccan Aziz Ben Askar replacing Spaniard Raul Caneda, could not help Umm Salal make a turnaround in their fortunes. The Orange Fortress have only one win to their credit. While they drew two matches, they lost nine times this season
Al Khor have nine points (two victories, three draws and seven defeats), but are in danger zone along with Shahania and Umm Salal. Al Khor defeated Al Sailiya 2-1 in Week 12. However, they went down 1-2 to Sadd last Tuesday. Al Khor had beaten Umm Salal 1-0 in the first leg.
Umm Salal coach Aziz Ben Askar said it was time for his team to make a strong comeback. “We have changed 80 per cent of the players. We have built a new team because we really need this. We are looking for the type of players who want to challenge because the players who spend a long time in the club do not have motivation, so we must change. Hopefully, we will achieve our target,” he said.
“The game will be strong against Al Khor. I told players that we must forget the past and think about the present and future. Al Khor are a good team and I believe Umm Salal have good players now. It is time we made a strong comeback. I am completely confident about the future,” he added.
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