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DOHA: Spanish football legend Raul is brimming with confidence ahead of his first ‘El Clasico’ in Doha today as Qatar Stars League (QSL) points leaders Al Sadd get ready to visit Al Rayyan.
The 35-year-old striker - who signed up for QSL side Al Sadd in May this year - is yet to play against arch-rivals Al Rayyan in regular season.
“I am happy to be playing this match. It will be my first ‘El Clasico’ in Doha and I am ready,” a beaming Raul said at a press conference yesterday.
“I am only happy when I play such high profile matches,” the former Real Madrid ace said.
“I am accustomed to playing such draining matches. I feel the atmosphere surrounding the match is pretty good,” he added.
Unbeaten Al Sadd are leading the QSL points table with 15 points from 5 matches.
“Al Rayyan have had their problems but we are looking to win this match,” Raul, who played 15 season for Real Madrid, said.
“Our aim is to pick up points and put further distance between us and our rivals.
“I have seen a good level of football so far,” Raul said when asked about his opinion on QSL challenges.
The former Spanish team captain has played 36 Clasico’s in his brilliant playing career as a Real Madrid player.
“Personally speaking I have played many such games,” Raul, who won 102 caps for Spain, explained.
“I have a lot of experience of playing in El Clasicos. Such games are important for the teams involved.
“We will present a strong challenge in order to win this match. I hope my experience helps Al Sadd win this match and that we can go on to win the title. “We have to keep working hard,” he added. “We have to work seriously hard in the upcoming matches,” he added.
Al Sadd coach Hussein Amute said: “Everyone knows that the sixth round of QSL is crucial. All teams are looking at their matches in this round. We are playing our own ‘El Clasico’. Our matches are always interesting. We have confidence in our camp.”
Amute added: “In the last match, Al Rayyan did not look in good shape. However, that match is history. Two tough teams are ready for a battle (today). I hope football fans are treated to some quality football. We are keen to win this match. We are working hard. There could be some absentees but we are not bothered.”
Al Rayyan coach Diego Aguirre admitted his team was facing a steep climb to snap a two-match losing streak in an ‘El Clasico’.
The coach warned that his players would be tested in the evening clash.
Al Sadd presents a difficult challenge for us. But it is a chance for us to test ourselves against a strong side. Al Sadd are the best side in the league right now. They have confidence on the pitch,” Aguirre said.
“Winning a match is important to our cause at this stage of the league. The Al Sailiyah result (last week) was not great. It surprised me too. Al Rayyan did not play well play last week. However, we have forgotten that match and we are looking at our next game.
“We are determined to do well against Al Sadd. We have strength and we have the courage. Our pride is important for us we will fight,” he said yesterday at the QSL headquarters. THE PENINSULA