Al Sadd aim to topple in-form Lekhwiya
12 Jan 2017 - 8:58
Chinthana Wasala | The Peninsula
The two unbeaten teams of the Qatar Stars League (QSL) this season, Al Sadd and Lekhwiya will lock horns in a battle for supremacy at Al Sadd Stadium at 6.30pm tomorrow.
Djamel Belmadi’s Lekhwiya are currently occupying the top spot of the QSL Standings, having accumulated a total of 39 points, with 12 big wins and three draws. Al Sadd, captained by Xavi Hernandez, are two points behind the table toppers and a win today will see themselves leaping into the summit. As for Lekhwiya, a win or a draw will see the four-time QSL champions stretch their lead at the top of the table.
Al Sadd come into the tie after a hard fought 1-0 win over Al Ahli which came despite the absence of leading scorer Bagdad Bounjah, who has left the QSL side to attend his national duties for Algeria at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Meanwhile, Lekhwiya registered one of their best performances of the season during the previous round, easily overcoming in-form Al Gharafa 3-0.
Al Sadd will have to face probably the best attack in this year’s league in tomorrow’s game but former Al Ahli man Pedro Miguel and skipper Xavi could be the ones to watch.
Speaking at a press briefing at Al Sadd Stadium yesterday, the home team’s coach Jesualdo Ferreira noted the possibility of a closely contested game.
“Both teams are strong in both defence and attack. Lekhwiya have improved in front of goals this season and it promises to be a close game. The difference is two points, both teams are suffering from key absences in strikers and we are both looking to win the title,” Ferreira said.
Ferriera also noted that a defeat wouldn't harm his sides title chances.
“My side’s aim is to win the title this season, and this will be a big challenge for both teams this week. For me it’s not the crucial game for the championship as we have ten games left after this game. We will look to maintain our performance, I think if we keep at the same level we can come away with a result,” he said.
“The unbeaten run of the side is down to the good work by both the players and the technical staff. The players are already motivated for this big game, and as in any big game it will be the small details that decide the game” noted the Portuguese tactician.
Al Sadd defender Ibrahim Majid, speaking at the press conference, said that defensive strength could be key in tomorrow’s game.
“I think that defensively we have been well organised this season, our concentration has been in over the season and this will continue against Lekhwiya, the team has the motivation to win the game,” Majid said.
Lekhwiya's assistant coach Bruno Olivera said: "It will be a exciting game on Friday, this is type of game we want to play, and it’s first against second and it’s good for the league and it’s good for the country."
Lekhwiya are currently having an amazing run in the QSL and Olivera believes his side have improved significantly from last season.
"We feel that we have been stronger mentally, on the pitch our passion. The fact we did not win the title, certainly will help us however our squad has a winning mentality and they have stepped up this year and it has been shown on the pitch," Olivera said.
“This will be a tough battle in midfield. We don’t have any special concerns over individuals in Al Sadd, we will be aiming to play the same way that we have done always over the course of the season,” he said.
The Lekhwiya defender Chico Flores noted that he was looking forward in playing compatriot Xavi.
“I wish Xavi good luck for the season, however in this game we will both be fighting points and I hope that Lekhwiya can win the game.”
“I think we deserve to win the league this season, but our aim is to win all the domestic and international competitions that we take part in, including the AFC Champions League” added the Spanish defender when asked about Lekhwiya’s title ambitions this season.
Apart from the Al Sadd – Lekhwiya match, there will be three other QSL clashes tomorrow. Al Khor will meet El Jaish at Al Khor Stadium while defending champions Al Rayyan will play against Al Sailiyah at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium. Both games will kick off at 4.20pm. Later, Al Arabi will meet Al Kharaitiyat at the Grand Hamad Stadium at 6.30pm..