DOHA: Lekhwiya will be relying on their winning form to counter the threat of football rivals El Jaish in the Qatar Cup final today.
The newly-crowned Qatar Stars League (QSL) champions beat Iranian side Tractorsazi Tabriz in their AFC Champions League clash last Wednesday.
The 2-1 win last week was posted after Lekhwiya beat Al Sailiya in a penalty shoot out in the semi-final of Qatar Cup.
Lekhwiya coach Eric Gerets said his side was buoyed with their recent winning form.
“After qualifying for the final and finishing in the champions league with a win in Iran, we are happy playing this game now, we are ready,” Gerets said.
“El Jaish unfortunately didn’t qualify for the round of 16 in the AFC Champions league (as) in the last few seconds (rivals) Bunyodkor scored a crucial goal,” Gerets said to add psychological pressure on El Jaish.
“It is bad luck for them and the loss will focus their minds on this tournament a bit more now that they are out of that competition,” the Belgian added.
Lekhwiya’s mercurial Ismail Mahmoud said ahead of today’s final, “After the good result in the AFC we switched our focus to this final match in the Qatar Cup. Our game against Tractor was preparation for this final. The final match is very important, we have all the determination and keenness to do well and show a good spectacle for the fans.”--
Gerets was, however, quick to acknowledge the strength of El Jaish in front of the goal.
“We beat them in the QSL championships this season but it is always difficult to beat them, because they are extremely well organised, perhaps the most organised in the QSL this season,” Gerets said.
“So we have to try and create the same kind of organisation as them and we need to have a very strong discipline otherwise we will not win,” he warned.
“I don’t know if I will put Vladimir Weiss on from the beginning but with 45 minutes already under his belt in the AFC Champions League, he should be ready if needed. (Striker) Sebastian Soria is also still injured,” Gerets said.
Ismail Mahmoud, the Lekhwiya winger, said coach Gerets had planned well for the final to be played at Lekhwiya Stadium today.
“During the preparation I was ready because of the coach’s good advice and plans for the team. That is why I played a good game. I also had a lot of confidence and I decided to play with discipline and do what the coach had instructed me to do,” Mahmoud said.
El Jaish assistant coach Lasaad Shebbi, who had stepped in for absent head coach Nabil Maâloul, said his side is up against a tough side.
“This cup final comes after our unsuccessful campaign in the champions league and as Lekhwiya are out of the competition too, this means extra importance will now be placed on both teams to win this cup,” Shebbi said. “So it will be a very good final. The fans should enjoy such a game, Lekhwiya are very good opponents and I am glad we are playing such a strong team in the final,” he added.
El Jaish player Ali Sanad Al Nuaymi said: “This is the first time we have reached this final, the defeat (in the AFC Champions League game) was a great frustration for all of the team and hopefully this final will give us a chance to redeem ourselves. This match will be different to a normal QSL fixture.”
When asked if the heart breaking exit in the AFC champions League match would have an effect on the teams morale ahead of the final, Shebbi said: “We will not be affected. Teams always exit but can still do well in other competitions. We know we have to win local competitions and we will try again next year to win the champions league.”
When asked about their opponents, Shebbi said: “As you know they are the champs, and champs always have much strength, regarding their weak points I don’t want to talk about this. I will wait for the game; if we find them we will exploit them then and there.”
Shebbi was asked if he thought his side was favourites, the assistant coach quickly quashed such claims.
“I don’t think there is a true favourite in this game but I would like to thank all those who say and believe this.”
The final match kicks-off at 7pm.