Coach Laudrup eyes trophies in fresh start

 04 Oct 2016 - 3:53

Coach Laudrup eyes  trophies in fresh start
Al Rayyan Sports Club Chairman Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid Al Thani presents a team jersey to their new coach Michael Laudrup during a press briefing held yesterday. Pictures by: Hussein Sayed

By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula 

DOHA: Al Rayyan coach Michael Laudrup is eager to do well in every game involving his new team this season but the experienced Danish manager has marked one event for special attention - the AFC Championships League next February. 
Laudrup, 52, was unveiled as the new coach of the current Qatar Stars League (QSL) champions at a press conference yesterday. 
The former Lekhwiya coach yesterday said he is ready to hit the ground running with Al Rayyan, who saw their coach Jorge Fossati take up the reigns of the national side a little over 10 days ago.
“When you join a side mid-season it is because the team is not doing good or probably the coach is sacked. I don’t see it (joining Al Rayyan) as the middle of the season. I see it is as almost beginning of the season because we have played only two games so far,” Laudrup said yesterday.
“This is an important season. We have the league (QSL title race) and then the AFC Champions League in February. We will take step by step,” the former Swansea coach said.  
Laudrup said doing well in the AFC Champions League remained an important target for Al Rayyan management.
“In Europe, the (UEFA) Champions League is big for the clubs. (Similarly) in Asia, the AFC Champions League is also big. It is a competition between the best teams from all the countries in Asia. It is also important to us,” he said.
Laudrup said Al Rayyan is used to winning big trophies. 
“This is a competitive team. It can compete for all the trophies. Al Rayyan demonstrated that last year winning the league (title). It has possibilities to win,” Laudrup said.
“It is difficult to reach the top, more tough to stay there. It is important to stay there at the top. Sometimes you win the league title. Sometimes you win two cups and no league. It’s important to be competing for trophies,” he said.
Laudrup said he was always in demand as coach but he still took for time off from active pitch duty and enjoyed his stints as a TV pundit in Europe.
“Yeah, I’ve been working for different TV stations in Denmark and London. It had been around the Champions League, the EPL season and the La Liga,” Laudrup said. 
“I have seen a lot of football but at the same time I kept connection with my friends here. I was updated on what was happening here. You have to keep updated on what’s happening,” he said.
“I don’t want to name names but it is true that I had calls from other countries - China and the United States. People ask (for your availability). In the end I choose this. I say thank you to the club for trusting me,” he added.
“In football there are a lot of people calling you. ‎I have said ‘no’ to them. Now I am here. I said ‘yes’,” Laudrup said about Al Rayyan’s interest to sign the Dane.
When asked about his fresh start with Al Rayyan, Laudrup said: “First of all we have to remember football is a team sport. It is not about one player or a coach. I think in football you can’t promise results. You can only promise effort. You look at Europe there are so many teams can win Champs League and only one team wins.”
Laudrup said that the top four in QSL - Al Rayyan, Al Sadd, Lekhwiya and El Jaish - will be hard to beat this season. The coach said playing against his former employers Lekhwiya will be ‘special’. 
“Of course when we play Lekhwiya, it will be special. It will be against my former players. It’s about human relations but we are all professionals. We want to win whatever game we play,” Laudrup said. 
In his first season in Qatar, Laudrup helped Lekhwiya win the QSL title in the 2014-15 season when his side also bagged the Qatar Cup trophy.
“We have a style that suits me. We have to look at how the team did before. Last year was a big success in the league. I need to see the players before saying anything. It depends a lot of on the players’ attitude,” Laudrup said.
When asked about his future plans, Laudrup said: “Earlier I said I would not be a coach until 60. I am just 52 (laughs). I said that I don’t think it would be right to sit here and say it would be my last job. I take my job step by step. You don’t know where I’d be in 2-4 years.”