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Giants clash tonight for AFC Champions League QF ticket

Giants clash tonight for AFC Champions League QF ticket

Ayeni Olusegun
Just days before the Sheikh Jassim Cup showdown, Al Sadd and Al Duhail will renew their rivalry at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium tonight (Tuesday) as the two giants clash in the second leg of the AFC Champions League Round of 16.
Al Sadd were held by the Red Knights 1-1 in the first leg but boasts an advantage, having scored an away goal through Akram Afif’s first half opener before Yousef Msakni’s leveller, minutes before half time.
Both teams had reached the quarter-finals last year with Al Sadd losing in the semis to Iran’s Persepolis.
Al Duhail will be without defender Mehdi Benatia who recently had knee surgery in Paris after picking up the injury in the first leg.
Portuguese coach Rui Faria is however adamant his side can still pip the Qatari champions in the race for the quarter-finals.
“We expect a difficult match against a difficult team. Like I have always said, they are (Al Sadd) one of the best in the region.
“Our goal is to win. We analysed the last game to know where we did good and areas we lacked concentration. It’s difficult to concentrate throughout the game, especially in matches like this but that’s what you need.
“Anything is possible in these matches against a difficult team, but we are prepared,” Rui Faria said ahead of the match.
Faria noted that the winner of the Round of 16 has a chance to go all the way and win the title.
“After analysing the last match, we tried to understand as a team what happened and how to prepare for the next. We have our responsibilities as a big team that we are and we hope to prove that on the pitch.
“I think the winner of the match can go far in the competition. Some of the best players in the region play here, so yes, the winner can go far in the competition.
Meanwhile for Al Sadd, a goalless draw would be enough for Xavi Hernandez’s side to reach the Continental quarter-finals for the sixth time in their history. The former Barcelona legend said his team will play with thesame confidence as the first leg.
“We will play with the same feeling that we did in the previous game. We are motivated and I am very happy with the players and I am confident in what they can offer. Football gives possibilities and we are positive going into the game,” Xavi said.
“Our goal is to focus on all aspect of the game, not just defence. We will play to create scoring opportunities. Our opponents Al Duhail, are one of the best teams in the Middle East, the game will be difficult.”
“There are many areas that we must develop in terms of correcting mistakes, especially in the defense. We must press high up the pitch.
“We played well against Al Duhail at Aljanoub but we still need to develop a lot of areas as we adapt to a new philosophy.”
The Spaniard also hinted at the possibility of Boualem Khoukhi being in the line-up. The defender joined the team’s camp late after a transfer dilemma between Al Sadd and Al Gharafa.
“Khoukhi is one of the best players and you know that he joined late to the camp. I will decide if he can participate on game day. He is an important player not only in this game but also the upcoming games.”
The winner of Tuesday’s match will face UAE’s Al Nassr in the quarter-finals, the two legs for which will be played on August 26 and September 16.


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