Stage set for feisty battle as Al Sadd host Al Rayyan

 26 Oct 2017 - 23:58

Stage set for feisty battle as Al Sadd host Al Rayyan
Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira (left) and midfielder Miguel Pedro before a press conference yesterday.

By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula

Unbeaten Al Sadd will be looking to consolidate their position today when they take on arch-rivals Al Rayyan in the biggest blockbuster match of the regular season.
Al Sadd, unbeaten in five QNB Stars League (QSL) matches so far, host Al Rayyan for the new season’s first ‘El Clasico’ battle at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.
Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira yesterday said his team will attempt to retain its winning form in what will be the sixth match for both sides.
Al Rayyan, coached by Michael Laudrup, have lost one match out of five.
“This is an important match for us as we will strive to get three points from this clash,” Ferreira said yesterday.
“We have prepared with that in mind. The players don’t need any great motivational speech from me as they know how big this game is,” the veteran coach added.
“This match has its own significance for football fans in the country. I am pretty certain there will be a big crowd (today),” the Portuguese said. “My boys will have a very robust attitude of fighting until the end. That’s what we intend to do,” Ferreira said.
“I don’t think there is any psychological pressure on Al Rayyan. They have a set team with a very good coach. Theirs is a stable bunch with quality players,” the Al Sadd coach said when asked about Al Rayyan’s lack of wins against Al Sadd in recent times.
When asked about tactics in the clash today, Ferriera refused to divulge his plans.
He said: “It is too early to talk about tactics. We are in round six and we have a task at hand.”
Al Sadd midfielder Miguel Pedro said: “There is no pressure on us. We are a strong side and with ability to attack at will. We are focusing on how to win this important game. Yes, it will be a tough game for sure. But our players are ready to give their 100 percent.”
He added: “We are looking at three points.”
Al Sadd will have the services of Barca legend and team captain Xavi along with feared striker Hassan Al Haydos but key player Khoukhi Boualem did not take part in the group training on Wednesday, a post on the club website said.
Boualem is still recovering from a calf muscle injury sustained in the last game against Al Arabi. Al Rayyan coach Laudrup on Wednesday said his team would be aiming to get a win against the old rivals.
“Of course, it is a big game and a big date. We’re keen to take on Al Sadd mainly because we want to reverse the trend of defeats against them in recent times.”
“We must be playing at our best, with or without the ball. There are some outstanding players on both sides and it must be nice for the players to showcase their skills and also for others to watch them in action,” said Laudrup.
“From the league standings’ point of view too, this is an important match for us. We want to finish in the top four and play in the AFC Champions League. We’ve to be really, really strong on the field. If not, players like Xavi, Baghdad (Bounedjah), Jugurtha Hamroun and Hassan Al Haidos will kill us. We should be creating more opportunities to score,” he added.
Laudrup said his team was up for the battle today.
“We’ve a strong squad. Even if we change three or four main players, the squad is still stronger this season. When the going is good, things are smooth in the team camp as well. We’ve already played seven games, including in the QSL Cup, and won six of them,” Laudrup said.
The match kicks off at 7:30pm.