(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Qatari heavyweights Al Sadd and Al Duhail lock horns again in the second leg of the AFC Champions League (ACL) Round of 16 today as they target a spot in the quarter-finals of the continental event.
Al Sadd, who scored a valuable ‘away' goal when the two sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Al Janoub Stadium, will today host the fellow QNB Stars League (QSL) side at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.
The two Qatari giants were present at the quarter-final stage last year, but there is only room for one of them among Asia's top eight this time around.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference yesterday, Al Sadd's coach, Barca legend Xavi Hernandez said he is confident of his team's strengths.
"We are motivated with all the strength, and I am very happy with the players and confidence in what they offer. We are confident of a positive outcome and ready for the face-off," the former Al Sadd captain said.
In the meantime, Xavi noted that the team is aware of their weak points and said that necessary corrections have to be made at today's blockbuster meeting.
"There are many points that we must develop in terms of correcting mistakes, especially in the defense, and we must have high pressure in the game, we did well during the last match, and I am happy with the team's performance. But still there are lot of things to develop," Xavi said.
The Spanish legend also noted that he and his players are aware of the threat that Al Duhail could offer.
"Tomorrow's game will be a difficult one. Everyone knows that Al Duhail is a strong team and has a special coach. We have always struggled in front of them. But we are confident of achieving a positive result," Xavi said.
Al Duhail coach Rui Faria is also aware of the difficult task in today's clash.
'The game will be a very difficult one against a strong team. Al Sadd is one of the best teams in the Middle East. They have an advantage in the result after a positive draw in the first leg, Faria said at a press conference yesterday.
'We are ready with a high concentration. We know it is a difficult task but we are ready to give the best. We have analysed the previous game and we have seen our mistakes. We have corrected them so we are ready for the match, he said.
'Today's winners will advance in the continental championship. Both teams have the potential and both are capable of going further in the tournament, Faria said.
Al Duhail will be without central defender Medhi Benatia who suffered a knee injury 18 minutes into the first leg. The club has since announced the Moroccan international is set to undergo surgery and will be sidelined for upto four months.
Coach Faria will, however, be encouraged by the positive debut performances of Youssef Msakni who netted Al Duhail's goal in the first leg on his return from a loan spell at KAS Eupen and Mohanad Ali, who showed glimpses of his ability in his 25-minute cameo.
Akram Afif's first-half goal gave Al Sadd the lead on the night and the away goal advantage, meaning a goalless draw at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium today would be enough for Xavi's side to reach the Continental quarter-finals for the sixth time in their history.
Awaiting the aggregate winners of the two Qatari sides is a quarter-final date with Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr, the winners of yesterday's clash against UAE's Al Wahda.
Al Nassr walked away with the quarter-final ticket after a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory in the second leg of the Round of 16 clash which gave them a 4-3 aggregate win.
The quarter-finals will be played on August 26 and September 16.