DOHA: Coach Eric Gerets has urged his players to put in extra effort in their Emir Cup quarter-final against Al Ahli today, saying another title win would require ‘hard work’.
Lekhwiya, who won the Qatar Stars League (QSL) title three weeks ago, play Al Ahli in one of four Emir Cup quarter-finals today at Al Sadd Stadium.
Also today, Al Sadd visit Al Arabi for the clash at Grand Hamad Stadium, Al Sailiyah visit Al Sadd Stadium to take on Al Khor while El Jaish battle Al Gharafa at Al Arabi Stadium.
Gerets, who took over at Lekhwiya in October 2012, said: “The players have to give their all during this match in order to win and be there in the final.”
The Belgian added: “This is our last chance at another title (in Qatar). This is our chance to end the season with another trophy, especially after the loss in Qatar Cup final (last week).”
Gerets admitted he was in unfamiliar territory with Al Ahli as he has not seen them in action in recent matches.
The stern-looking coach said his team was ready for the quarter-final despite his squad’s ‘mild preparations’.
Al Ahli, however, will be looking at an upset, veteran coach Milan Macala said just days after signing a new contract with Al Ahli.
The 70-year-old guided Al Ahli to sixth spot in the final QSL standings last month.
“It will be a tough match against Lekhwiya but we like our chances,” Macala said. “We are capable of winning this match.
“We are excited as we believe we can upset them. Yes, they have a quality side with great players who can change the complexion of the game suddenly. But we have reached thus far and we feel we can go and win this match,” he added.
Macala said Al Ahli will change the players’ roster as the end of the season bur refused to divulge the name of new players.
Al Arabi, who beat Al Wakra in the pre-quarters, will adopt different match tactics when they host Al Sadd today.
“Al Sadd are a different side and we have to play differently compared to how we fared against Al Wakra,” coach Paulo Cesar said. “The reason we have been playing well is because we are trying our best as a unit in training and in the matches we play,” he added. “I have told the players that they have got here because of good results that came from hard work. We need to continue the hard work,” Cesar added.
“Football is about pressure and players need to know that pressure can bring out the best in them,” he said. When asked about Al Sadd’s strengths and weaknesses, Cesar said: “My goal is to help Al Arabi win this match and try to reach the next stage. I am only interested in my team.”
Al Sadd coach Hussein Amute said: “We are well prepared for this challenge. We want to do well in Emir Cup as we didn’t win the QSL title or the Qatar Cup trophy.”
Amute admitted that fatigue could be a concern ahead of the knockout fixture today. When asked about the composition of his side for today’s quarter-finals against Al Arabi, Amute refused to divulge the playing XI.
“Let’s say we will adapt accordingly,” Amute said with a smile.
The semi-finals will be on May 10 at Al Sadd Stadium.
The final of the tournament, which brings to close the football season in Qatar, will take place on May 17 at Khalifa Stadium.