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Al Sadd vs Al Duhail Part III

Having started his coaching career with a bang after leading Al Sadd to the AFC Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday, Xavi has now set his eyes on winning the first trophy with the Qatari giants.
The Spaniard masterminded Sadd’s 4-2 aggregate win over Al Duhail in the last 16, giving him a shot at an Asian continental title in his first season as coach. Now he has turned his attention towards winning the Sheikh Jassim Cup, the season-opener of the Qatar’s football season.
Standing between Xavi and his maiden trophy as manager is once again Al Duhail, who will be keen to avenge their loss in the AFC Champions League, at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium tomorrow.
On the eve of the match, Xavi spoke about the importance of winning the Sheikh Jassim Cup but cautioned his players not to take their wounded opponents lightly. The task will be much tougher this time with Sadd missing key players Baghdad Bounedjah, Hamed Ismail and Tarek Salman, who are under suspension after being sent off in the Amir Cup final in May, which Duhail won.
“We will miss three players – Baghdad Bounedjah, Hamed Ismail and Tarek Salman – due to suspension. It will be our third game against Al Duhail in 11 days,” said Xavi yesterday.
“We want to win this trophy and Al Duhail would want revenge. As I said earlier, Duhail are one of the best teams in the Middle East. We are ready for the game. It’s a game of 90 minutes. We need to be motivated and also be wary of Al Duhail. We also need to improve our work, as the season is only just beginning,” he added.
The former Barcelona midfielder urged his players to keep their focus and not get carried away by the Champions League win. “If we don’t give our 100 percent, we won’t be able to win titles. We managed to reach the next stage in the Champions League because we were able to do just that. And so, we need to keep giving our best in the Super Cup in order to win the title,” he said.
The Champions League win over Duhail also confirmed Sadd’s place in the Club World Cup, which will be held in Qatar in December. And Xavi said his team was looking forward to the high profile competition. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play in the Club World Cup. There are only three players in the team who took part in the 2011 edition and they played against Barcelona. Now it’s time for the others. We are ready for that and we are preparing daily for the tournament,” he said.
Xavi also praised his players, who he said “had a winning mentality”. “We have great players, such as Akram Afif – he is excellent and can play in the Spanish league. We are very happy to have him with us.”
Meanwhile, Duhail coach Rui Faria feels the AFC Champions league loss will have no impact on their game against Sadd tomorrow. “This is the third match for us against Al Sadd in 11 days and we are ready for this confrontation. We began working since the end of the away match of the AFC Champions League, where we analysed our mistakes. My team is ready to present a big match and win the championship,” he said.
Faria revealed that key striker Almoez Ali will miss tomorrow’s match along with Mehdi Benatia, who had already been ruled out for four months after undergoing a knee surgery in France last week. “Both teams will miss key players. We will participate with 11 players, who have ambition and desire to win the match,” he said.
Faria said he and his players were not looking at Sheikh Jassim Cup as a revenge match against Sadd. “I do not believe in revenge in football. The players are sad after the loss in the Champions League and they will do their best on Saturday but it is not a revenge match,” the Portuguese manger said.
The Sheikh Jassim Cup, launched in 1977, over the years, has been played in the month of August and sets things in motion for an exciting season. The tournament is a one-off match between the winners of the QNB Star League (QSL) and Amir Cup.
Al Rayyan won the previous edition of the tournament after beating Al Duhail 6-4. Al Sadd have the most impeccable record in the tournament with 14 trophies.

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