Al Sadd and Al Duhail will clash in a blockbuster Qatar Cup final at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium today. Both the teams have fierce rivalry, but Al Sadd have had the better of their rivals in the recent past.
The Wolves have beaten Al Duhail six consecutive times, dating back to January last year. And their red-hot form in QNB Stars League, where they hold a massive 13-point lead over second-placed Al Duhail and are one win away from winning the title, makes them overwhelming favourites for today’s cup final.
Al Duhail and Al Sadd qualified for the title clash by defeating Al Gharafa (2-1) and Al Rayyan (1-0) respectively in the semifinals of the tournament, which features the top four clubs in the league championship.
Al Sadd had beaten Al Duhail in last year’s Qatar Cup final and it would be hard to bet against them not retaining the title. Having said that, Duhail have settled down nicely under their French coach Sabri Lamouchi and can make it hard for their Al Sadd, who are unbeaten this season.
Al Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez was happy for his team to carry the favourites tag into the final and warned his team was at its best. “We are at our best. We are at the top of our physical conditioning. We have not lost for a long time and the team is presenting very good levels. I think the Al Arabi match in the league last week was a great experience before facing Al Duhail, as we performed very well in it,” the Spaniard said yesterday.
“Al Sadd players have a winning mentality. This is an important feature of my team as we go into a match with a strong desire to win, regardless of the strength of our opponent. We are happy to play the final for a second year in a row. We want to add this title to our trophy cabinet. The good thing for me is that since I started training with Al Sadd, the team is present in all finals and we hope to bag another trophy. The title is won, the finals are won and not played,” Xavi added.
The Al Sadd coach, however, warned his players on being complacent against Duhail. “Al Duhail are one of the best teams in Qatar. Both teams have very high-level players and from my point of view, Al Sadd are better than Al Duhail. We are also stronger even though Al Duhail are one of the best teams in Asia and recently signed quality overseas players,” said Xavi.
Meanwhile, Duhail coach Sabri Lamouchi admitted Al Sadd are in good form but urged his players to focus on winning game. “The strength of Al Sadd in the recent matches cannot be denied. But I have told the team’s players to focus more in order to achieve victory,” he said yesterday
“My team is ready to face Al Sadd. Duhail will continue to play good football and remain strong on the pitch like we did against Al Gharafa in the semifinal. Given the circumstances, we have tried to prepare in the best way to go into the match with the aim of achieving victory.
“We are trying hard despite the pressure of playing many matches and the lack of time for players to recover from injuries. The two teams are undoubtedly looking forward to winning the title. Both teams are among the best in Qatar. We must work to avoid mistakes and pay attention to details to achieve the desired goal, which is winning the Qatar Cup,” Lamouchi added.
Duhail will be without experienced midfielder Luiz Martin Junior, who is sidelined for a month following surgery in the lower abdomen. Lamouchi said he was yet to decide whether to play Mohamed Muntari, who had suffered injury in the last league game.