DOHA: For Al Shamal, winning promotion to Qatar Stars League (QSL) last season was a massive achievement and the second division side is keen to stay put in the top tier of football in Qatar.
According to Dutch coach Silvio Diliberto, Al Shamal wants to be competitive in the new season that kicks-off today.
“We talked in the beginning. Our first goal is to stay in the QSL. We cant say which ranking we should be on the QSL points table at the end of the season but I think the goal is to stay in QSL,” Diliberto said yesterday.
“Like my captain said a few minuets ago, we have to see this week-by-week,” the 50-year-old added.
“We are still not there. We still have to be stronger, I know. But we know the other teams have the same problem. There are small injury concerns but then there are players who make the team more competitive. For us, the goal is to stay in the league,” the former Sparta Rotterdam player said.
Diliberto said his side was keen to emulate Al Ahli - a second division side that finished sixth in the last season.
“Last year I spoke about Al Ahli - they also came from the second division and they had a great season in QSL last year,” Diliberto said.
“OK, it will be nice to accomplish the same thing but I think it is decent thing for us to stay in QSL. That’s our main goal,” he added.
Diliberto said the presence of Mamouni Dagano and Saif Boutahar would boost the performances of the second division in the new QSL season starting a month earlier than usual.
“Al Shamal didn’t sit still in the off-season. We got players like Dagano and Boutahar so that we remain competitive,” Diliberto said.
“Of course the season is new and every team has to prove that they are starting afresh. But we are very confident,” he added.
About his team’s first game against Al Kharaitiyat today, Diliberto said: “For us, it is a challenge to start well and to start well against Al Kharitiyat who also didn’t sit still. They also prepared really well. We heard that they changed some players - three professional players. “
He added: “So, of course, they will also be stronger than last year. For us the big challenge is to be competitive. Our players are looking forward to the game tomorrow.”
Diliberto pledged total commitment ahead of the first game today.
“As you know we come from the second division. The first questions are always that ‘if you come from the second division, will you be able to survive the relegation battle?’ History shows us that the second division sides usually go down to the second division after one year in the top tier,” Diliberto said.
“We will try to avoid this of course. We will try to build our team to be competitive in QSL. We had a pre-season in Spain. I am sure there will be no easy games in the league,” he added.
“We have to fight. We have to work hard every game. We cannot take everything lightly,” the Dutchman said.
“We know that there is a lot of quality in the QSL. We know that there are good professionals and good local players, good Qatari players. But we are very confident of doing well,” he said.