(MENAFN- Gulf Times) 'Al Duhail are a strong team and we aspire to do better than in the first match'
Al Arabi face Al Duhail in the QNB Stars League at the Khalifa International Stadium today.
Al Arabi, who had finished seventh in last season's QNB Stars League, have started off well this time by beating Al Wakrah 1-0, with Gabonese striker Aaron Boupendza scoring the all-important goal.
The Dream Team, under new coach and former Qatar international Younes Ali who replaced Icelander Heimir Hallgrimsson, have strengthened their ranks with a spate of new recruitments and they will be keen to prove quite a handful for Al Duhail, who ended up runners-up last season.
Al Arabi coach Younes Ali said:“In order to win against Al Duhail, we need to focus, reduce our mistakes, avoid the mistakes of the previous match and develop ourselves day after day.”
He added:“We achieved an important victory at the expense of Al Wakrah. The first match is always difficult and we were not satisfied with the performance in a large way, but the result was the most important thing at this stage.
“Especially since the players made a great effort and I hope that we will take advantage of the spirit and desire from the previous match, especially since Al Duhail are a strong and experienced team in the league and we aspire to do better than in the first match and get the three points.”
Al Duhail, coached by Portuguese Luis Castro who replaced Frenchman Sabri Lamouchi ahead of this season, had bounced back from being down by an early goal to beat Al Khor 4-1 in Week 1.
Al Duhail coach Luis Castro said:“We look forward to presenting a distinguished match and achieving a positive result in the Al Arabi match, which will be as difficult as the Al Khor match in the first round.
“We are ready for this match and our goal is to win every match, regardless of which team we are facing. Everyone had expected that the Al Khor match would be easy, but it was not easy. The QNB Stars League does not have such classifications and all matches are difficult.”
Meanwhile, reigning champions take on Qatar SC today. Al Sadd began their title defence with a 2-0 win over Al Sailiya last week. Al Sadd lifted the coveted league shield last season by being the only unbeaten side. The Wolves topped the table with 60 points from 22 matches, winning 19 and drawing three.
Qatar SC, who missed out on the top-four bracket by a whisker last season, did not get a bright start this time as The Kings were held goalless by Al Ahli.
Al Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez described the match against Qatar SC as a 'really tough' game, and emphasised the need for his side to be focused. Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Xavi said:“Our next game against Qatar Club will be very difficult. They did very well when we played last season, when we drew with them at their stadium. So I expect a really tough match and we have to be ready and focused. We have to recover and prepare well for this match.”
He added:“Every match will be difficult this season, as everybody has signed with good players, especially Qatar SC, who have signed Javi Martinez and Djamel Benlamri, and they already have Belaili.
We are talking about really good players that can make the difference.”
In another match today, Al Shamal face Al Sailiya at the Al Gharafa Stadium. Al Shamal, who are back in the First Division after six seasons by winning the Second Division League last season (2020-2021), had started their campaign on a losing note, having lost 0-2 to Al Gharafa.
So Al Shamal, under the tutelage of Moroccan coach Hisham Jadrane, will be keen to get their campaign on track. Al Sailiya, who had to settle for ninth place in the league last season, too started off on a losing note after they were beaten 2-0 by reigning champions Al Sadd in Week 1.
The Peregrines, coached by Tunisian Sami Trabelsi for the ninth consecutive season, are seeking a top-four finish this time, so a keen contest is on cards. Both teams have outstanding players to deliver the goods.
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