Al Duhail will have an opportunity to seal the QNB Stars League title with a win or a draw over arch rivals and defending champions Al Sadd today. The Red Knights lead the table with 48 points, five ahead of Al Arabi, with two matches remaining.
Depending upon Arabi’s result against Gharafa today, Duhail can seal the title. An Arabi loss would give Hernan Crespo’s men the title even if they lose to Sadd at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium.
Argentine coach Crespo, however, is urging his players to go all out for the win and retain the league shield in style. “We have a match that speaks for itself and everyone knows its importance for us in order to win the league title. We will face a distinguished team and the match will be a new challenge for us, and we are ready for it,” he said yesterday.
Crespo noted Duhail has overcome many difficult scenarios this season. “We had to overcome many difficulties this season. We missed a large number of our international players as well as injuries that deprived us of the services of a number of our players for long periods. The absence of Edmilson made us learn a lot and in our next match we will not be complacent. The players will continue their strong performance on the field. The players must remain calm, understand the importance of the match and show their strong personality, as they had in previous matches,” he added.
Sadd, who are third with 41 points, at best can finish second this season. They are seven points behind Duhail with two matches to go. Duhail and Arabi have both won the league seven times each, whereas Sadd have been the most successful having lifted the coveted shield on 16 occasions.
Al Sadd’s Spanish coach Juan Manuel Lillo Juanma said his team will hope to finish second. “As we always say, we will do our best to try to win the match, regardless of the opponents. We try to compete and win all matches,” he said.
“We know that we lost our chance to win the league title, but we will do our best against Al Duhail to continue collecting points and progressing in the standings. Regarding the Al Sadd vs Al Duhail face-off, which is the fourth this season, I would say that it can happen that the two largest teams face each other more than twice a season, in the league and other tournaments. We respect Al Duhail and we will do our best to achieve victory,” added Juanma.
Meanwhile, Al Arabi will look to keep their title hopes alive when they face Al Gharafa at home. The Dream Team are in a must-win situation, but their task against Gharafa will not be easy as the The Cheetahs are aiming to finish in the top four. Al Arabi, who had a great run at the start the season, will look to shrug off their loss in the previous round to Al Wakrah. Al Arabi coach Younes Ali said: “We are ready to face Al Gharafa in the next round. Yes, the recent loss against Al Wakrah frustrated me, but despite everything, we will fight until our last breath in the league,” he said.
“We will face a good team that is noted for offensive power and we must enter the match with full concentration in order to seal the three points. All players are in a good physical condition that allows them to play the match, and after the last training session, we will determine the list with which we will face Al Gharafa,” Younes added.