Doha, Qatar: Stakes are high as leaders Al Sadd take on arch rivals Al Rayyan in the Qatar Clasico on Saturday.
With only six matches to play, Sadd are just two points ahead of reigning champions Al Duhail SC and Rayyan, who are in a confident mood after their Champions League play-off win against Saipa FC could prove to be dangerous opponents.
Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira said they were determined to win all their remaining matches.
“It’s the biggest fixture in Qatar and we are very motivated,” said Ferreira.
“I think the pressure will be on our rivals. The difference of two points with Al Duhail does not mean much in football, but we are determined to win all remaining matches in our bid to win the title.”
Rayyan’s new signing Gelmin Rivas has already proved to be a big hit scoring four goals in two matches, including two against Saipa, but Ferreira said they were not particularly worried and one player.
“Al Rayyan’s contract with Venezuelan striker Gelmin Rivas is proving productive. We have seen him in action in two games and he scored four goals. We, at Al Sadd, are not concerned about a particular player. Our goal is winning the league title.
“Al Rayyan are a great team that likes to play an open game and we are ready to play with all strength,” said Ferreira.
Rayyan coach Bulent Uygun said his team would play for a victory despite the fact that the players have not yet recovered from the tiring Champions League fixture during the mid-week.
“Our players are suffering from exhaustion after our AFC Champions League play-off win over Iranian side Saipa on Tuesday. It is against this backdrop that we are going into the Qatar Clasico against Al Sadd.
“Al Sadd are a strong team with many prominent players, but in spite of that, we will play to win. The main thing is it is a big clasico between the two teams. We started preparing for the Al Sadd match soon after our victory over Saipa in the AFC Champions League.
“I think Al Sadd can be defeated. We will miss the services of players Rodrigo Tabata, Omar Barri and Daniel Goumou. However, we have substitute players who can make up for their absences. I also hope the fans will greatly enjoy the match,” said Bulent.
Meanwhile, Duhail, ready to pounce on any slip up by Sadd, take on Al Gharafa in another big fixture.
Gharafa saw their Champions League dreams dashed after their defeat against Zob Ahan in the playoff and another reveral would realistically end their chances of a top-four finish.
Duhail coach Rui Faria said they need to improve their attacking game.
“We face a difficult battle against Al Gharafa. This game needs much focus and we need to work hard to come off with a victory,” said the Portuguese coach.
“As we have done in the last few weeks, we have been in development process. We are focused on getting back to the way we want to play.
“We want to improve our offensive performance. We must bring out a collective display that helps us in our mission,” added Rui Faria.