Al Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez insisted his side have “extra motivation” for the Qatar Cup final against arch-rivals Al Duhail.
Xavi’s boys perhaps played their best match of the season to defeat Al Rayyan 4-1 in the semi-final and are now aiming to clinch their second title of the season at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.
“This is the final and we as a team are eyeing our second title of the season,” said Xavi, whose team won the Sheikh Jassim Cup with a win over the same opponents.
The season-opening trophy victory was also Xavi’s maiden title as coach.
In the ongoing season of the QNB Stars League, Duhail are the table toppers with 30 points, while Al Sadd are third with 21 points and one match in hand.
The Wolves lost 1-4 to Al Duhail when the teams last met in the QNB Stars League in November, and it is payback time for them.
“Yes… we lost 1-4 to Duhail and that is an extra motivation for us,” said Xavi.
“But this is the final. This time we will be playing for the title and that’s what makes it different. It will be a tough match but we are ready. It will be an exciting match, we will put in our 100 per cent and will fight to win the title,” said Xavi.
Barcelona legend also praised “friend” Rui Faria and his side Al Duhail.
“Duhail is one of the best Asian teams. They have won several domestic titles. We have to play at our best to beat them and I am confident of doing that, but we need our fans’ support as well.
“Faria is a great coach technically and I respect him a lot. He is doing a great job, he has a lot of experience having worked with Jose Mourinho. My relationship with him is good and we are friends,” said Xavi.
Al Sadd captain and striker Hassan al-Haydos also echoed his coach’s views.
“The match will be difficult because we will face one of the best teams in Asia. It is certain that reaching a high level is difficult, but it is tougher to maintain that. We hope we maintain the level that we showed in our last two games and our target is to put in all our efforts to win the title to make our fans happy,” Al-Haydos said.
The Red Knights, who defeated Al Sailiya 2-0 in the first semi-final, are also confident of a win.
“It is a final. As everyone knows, it is one game that gives you the opportunity to win the title. We know that small details will be of importance, we have to be at the highest level of readiness technically and collectively, and also focused,” Faria said.
Under Faria, who joined Duhail last January after assisting Jose Mourinho for 17 years at some of the world’s biggest clubs, Duhail have performed quite well to remain unbeaten in the league. The Red Knights had an eight-match winning run which ended in a goalless draw with Qatar SC at the start of the month.
“We have prepared well and we know that we are facing a strong team, so our target is collective display, which should help us win. We have full confidence in our ability.”
Talking about new faces in his team, the Portuguese said: “The new players have played and we hope they will soon settle into their stride, but certainly, when you bring new players, they need time to gel well because the players get to know each other after many games. That will, in turn, help the coach implement his ideas fully, so we need more time to get to that stage.”
Duhail’s Karim Boudiaf felt they have to be well organised against Al Sadd.
“It is not the first time that we face Al Sadd in the final. I agree with the coach that small details will be important, but if we avoid mistakes, we will be close to winning. Generally, the team that controls the midfield wins. I know Al Sadd players as I have played with them in national team and know that this team prefers to take possession of the ball. My advice to my teammates is to be well organised and also to play with our distinctive style,” the 29-year-old midfielder said.
Commenting on Mario Mandzukic inclusion, he said: “Mario is wonderful. He has rich experience, but it is difficult for a player to get adapted quickly when he joins a new team. We expect him to give us an additional value in the coming games.”
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