By Sports Reporter/Doha
Blockbuster day is in store at the QNB Stars League with leaders Al Ahli taking on Al Sadd while reigning champions Al Duhail face Al Rayyan today.
Ahli have been the surprise package so far, winning four out of four matches to take lead at the top. Their title credentials, though, will be put to test today against Sadd, who outplayed Al Duhail last week. A Sadd victory today will put them top of the table and that should spice up the clash.
Al Ahli coach Nebosha Jovovic while admitting it would be a difficult contest against Sadd, also said ‘football is not without surprises’.
“We won against Al Sailiya last week and that result is an important motivation for us ahead of the match against Al Sadd, who are one of the strongest teams in Asia. Therefore, it is considered as a difficult match for us in the competition and we believe that football is not without surprises,” he said.
Jovovic said the team unity has been strong so far, one of the reasons why Ahli has done will so far. “The fortunes of any team remain in place in all matches, as is the case with Al Ahli, one of the surprise packages of the current season. Our players play as one group and focus on ensuring that the team is one unit in all its matches. It plays every match different from the other, given that the competitors on the pitch are different. Every match has different preparations. We have great respect for Al Sadd. In my opinion, they are the best in Qatar, if not in Asia. At the same time, I have great confidence in my team,” Jovovic added.
Meanwhile, Sadd oozed class as they dismantled Duhail on Wednesday. Xavi Hernandez’s men will look too carry on that momentum. Xavi paid credit to Jovovic for Ahli’s surprise start and said their opponent will be difficult to beat as they are high on confidence.
“Al Ahli have not lost any points so far. They are showing a good level and that is because of the wonderful work that their coach does.
“We consider this match as final because if we win the three points, we go to the top of the league and therefore it is a very important match for us. It will be difficult because they have confidence and are having their best time in recent years. All the upcoming matches are finals. We want to win this tournament, which is our first goal this season,” said Xavi.
The Barcelona great said there would be no complacency from his side. “We are feeling good after our victory over Al Duhail and there is no room for complacency because Al Ahli are a wonderful team with distinguished players, especially their overseas recruits such as (Mohamed) Diame, (Shane) Lowri, Nabil (El Zahr), Hernan (Perez) and Omid (Ebrahimi). Therefore, facing them will be very difficult, but we are Al Sadd and we always aspire to win,” Xavi added.
Meanwhile, Duhail will look to bounce back from their defeat to Sadd when they take on Rayyan at the Gharafa Stadium. Duhail are fifth in the table with six points, while last season’s runners-up Al Rayyan are placed fourth with seven points.
Sabri Lamouchi, who replaced Walid Regragui last week, conceded the players performance have dipped and their confidence need to be restored. “We played a match against Al Sadd a few days ago and did not have enough time to prepare for this match, but the players know that they have a big match and also know the amount of responsibility entrusted to them, which is a good motivation for us,” he said.
“We are now dealing with a team that exited the AFC Champions League, which certainly has a psychological impact on the players, and we are working hard to restore the players’ usual level and win the upcoming matches. I am still new to the team and I deal with the negative issues and I also talk to the players. Within the next two months, the impact of our work will reflect on the team,” added Lamouchi.
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