By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Duhail coach Walid Regragui made no secret of the pressure his team would be facing when they clash with defending champions Al Sadd in the QNB Stars League today.
Leading second-placed Al Rayyan by a mere point, Al Duhail cannot afford to slip up on the final straight as the tournament heads towards a thrilling finish.
A defeat by Al Sadd would mean Al Duhail will be stuck on 46 points, and with Al Rayyan snapping at their heels on 45, the champions could well be decided in the final week of the event.
“This is like a summit match in Qatar football… And the two teams have been putting up beautiful performances. But while we are playing for the title, Al Sadd play without any pressure,” said Regragui at his pre-match press conference
“We improved our level after playing a difficult match against Umm Salal which ended in a draw. We were back to winning ways with victory over Al Gharafa. We know that we have to be careful in the remaining matches because we are playing for the title and the current situation is not like the beginning of the league. We must win this game to keep our advantage,” added the Moroccan.
Regragui seemed a bit concerned about the injury situation in his team.
“We hope we will have the services of all our players, like Ahmed Yasser who was injured in the Umm Salal match and returned to training this week,” said Regragui.
Meanwhile, Al Duhail player Yousef Msakni said a match against Al Sadd cannot be taken lightly.
“The matches against Al Sadd are of a special character and always strong even if it is a friendly match. We still have three matches and logically we are the closest to the title. However, we have not won the title and we will work with all our strength for victory against Al Sadd as it will bring us further closer to lifting the league shield.
“Victory is important and I believe my teammates are ready for this match. God willing, we will get a good result.”
Al Sadd, who beat Al Ahli 1-0 in Week 19, are third in the standings with 38 points. The Wolves have 12 wins, two draws and five defeats with a goal difference is +20 (48 goals for and 28 against).
Al Sadd, under the tutelage of Spanish great Xavi Hernandez, have scored the most number of goals than any other team. However, Al Sadd are eight points adrift of Al Duhail, who moved closer to the title by defeating Al Gharafa 2-0 in the previous round.
Al Duhail had beaten Al Sadd 4-1 in the first leg of 2019-20 QNB Stars League, and coach Xavi is hoping his team would be keen to avoid another defeat.
“Al Duhail will definitely be the most difficult in the league, especially as we face the leaders in standings, but as usual we are ready for the challenge and are going through a good period. Al Sadd are the only team that won the two matches after the tournament resumed,” said Xavi.
The absence of Akram Afif who will miss the rest of the tournament due to injury will also affect Al Sadd’s chances.
“The injury keeps Akram Afif away from the team and we miss him a lot because he is a very important player for us. But we have hope and we will compete until the last moment and we still have the chances of competing for the title even if the task is difficult,” said Xavi
“We, at Al Sadd, are always ready and have a winning mentality, we know that we are facing the leaders and the game will be difficult, but we will do our best to get the three points.”
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