(MENAFN - The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha: Barcelona legend Xavi collected his first trophy as coach yesterday as Al Sadd rode on a 13th minute goal from Ali Asad to down rivals Al Duhail to clinch the Sheikh Jassim Cup.
At the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, the home ground of Al Sadd, Xavi's boys withstood the late onslaught of Al Duhail to win the season opening tournament and give the Spaniard his first silverware in only his third match as coach.
Xavi, who retired last season as a player with Al Sadd, made his coaching debut in the AFC Champions League against Al Duhail in the double leg pre-quarter-final matches and guided the Wolves to a place in the quarter-finals of the continental event.
The hard fought win meant Al Sadd have won the season opening tournament for the 15th time, an annual match between Qatar Stars League winners and Amir Cup winners.
The win was Al Sadd's third win in 11 days having won both the AFC Champions league pre-quarter-final matches.
'Winning this prestigious title, the first of the season, is a very good start.
Hopefully the good start will help us to win more titles in the season, Asad, the hero for Al Sadd and the lone goal scorer of the match said.
'During the match, we had many opportunities. We as players were keen to play cautiously on instructions of our coach, Xavi. He instructed us to take advantage of the offensive opportunities, but we were not successful. But in the end, the most important thing was to win the game and secure the title. We did it, the hero of the match said.
Asad did not forget to thank Al Sadd fans.
'I thank all the fans who were here to support us. Their support is very important to us and we will work hard to continue to delight our fans in all tournaments and challenges ahead, Asad said.
The match saw two Al Duhail players Luiz Martin and Asim Madabo been sent off in the 68th and 93rd minute respectively.
Al Sadd started off on a strong note and succeeded in scoring in the 13th minute of the match. Akram Afif operating on the left side created the opening by dribbling past three players before passing to Asad, who settled the ball into the net, much to the delight of the large crowd, 1-0.
Al Sadd continued to maintain the same pace and in the 30th minute Afif set up Hashim Ali with an accurate cross which ended with the last named heading over the bar. A few minutes later on Hassan Al Haydos lob almost caught rival keeper Claude Amin on the wrong foot, however he managed to tip the ball over for a flag kick.
The best chance for Al Duhail came to Youssef Msakni nearing half time. The Tunisian, left unmarked in the box, was picked out with a lovely cross by Edmilson but he managed to direct his header wide from six yards out.
Al Sadd continued to dominate but they could not add another goal, with the teams going into the half time break with the Wolves leading 1-0.
In the second half, Haydos attempt at the Al Duhail goal narrowly missed the target.
Al Duhail began the second half with more attacking intent and were almost rewarded but Mohanad Ali's header was palmed away by Al Sadd keeper Sadd Al Dosari.
Al Duhail suffered a blow in the 68th minute when Martin saw red from the referee but they fought back and came close to equalising but their efforts off the target.
Al Duhail last chance to equalise fell at the feet of Mohammed Muntari but ended up making a mess of it. Edmilson beat his marker down the left before finding the unmarked Muntari only for the striker to send his effort straight at Al Dosari who parried away to safety.
Spaniard Xavi expressed delight on winning his maiden silverware as a coach.
'I am very happy with the team's performances, especially as a coach, Xavi said after the match.
'We deserve the title and the players deserve to win after their excellent performance they gave during the game.
'The match was not easy at all and we knew very well how difficult it was going to be, Xavi said.
'We are still at the beginning of the season and we have a lot of work to win more tournaments and titles, the jubilant coach said.
'I congratulate all the players on their level of excellence not only in yesterday's game, but in all three games they have played so far since the start of the season. I would also like to congratulate the administration and the fans on the first title of the season, and congratulate the technical and administrative staff members who are doing a wonderful job as we are looking to win more titles, Xavi said.
With the victory, the QSL Champions Al Sadd go into the new season on a high note with the League due to kick off on Wednesday.
Saud Al Muhannadi, Vice President of Qatar Football Association (QFA) and AFC Vice President, crowned the champions in the presence of Hani Balan, CEO of QSL.