(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Fawad Hussain / The Peninsula
As Qatar's National Day celebrations continue with patriotic fervour, football fans of the country will be in for a treat as in-form Al Gharafa will square off with giants Al Rayyan in the final of all-important QSL Cup which will be played today at Qatar SC Stadium.
It is a must watch clash as both teams entered the final after enjoying an unbeaten run in earlier stages and will be firing on all cylinders to achieve the glory.
Al Gharafa will be looking to regain their title which they clinched in the inaugural edition while Michael Laudrup's ‘Lions' will be eyeing their maiden trophy.
Al Sadd (2010-11), Al Wakrah (2011-12), erstwhile El Jaish (2012-13) and Qatar SC (2013-14) were the other winners before the QSL Cup was revived this season after a gap of three years.
Al Gharafa and Al Rayyan had advanced from the group stage as winners with 13 points each. In the semi-finals, Al Gharafa defeated Umm Salal by an all-important goal scored by Monqeth Mohamed late into the game, while Al Rayyan prevailed over Al Kharaitiyat 2-0 through goals from Sebastian Soria and Daniel Goumou.
Al Rayyan will go into the match with a slight edge over Al Gharafa considering their recent results and Laudrup said his team will look to continue with the form in the decisive game.
'Of course, we want to win this game, the Danish great said ahead of the match.
'After all, it's the final of an official cup competition. We won five of the six games we played in this tournament so far and we're keen to win the last match as well, he added.
Laudrup said the result of QSL game against Al Gharafa early in the season will help his team in the final.
'We had lost both our league matches to Al Gharafa last season. However, we could beat them in the first phase of QNB Stars League this time. We'll go into this game with the same determination that we showed in all games in the QSL Cup, he said before predicting a tough battle.
'Matches against Al Gharafa are always close, so we'll be wary of them. We aren't making any special preparations for the final as there isn't much time after the semifinal. Luckily, we won't be missing any player due to national team duty this time, said Laudrup.
Al Gharafa coach Jean Fernandez said his team will go fully prepared against the giants.
'We know Al Rayyan are strong opponents, and they've got many experienced and skilful players, such as Sebastian Soria, Rodrigo Tabata and Abderrazaq Hamdallah, in their ranks. They've been scoring goals consistently in the QNB Stars League as well as QSL Cup.
'I never like to go into a game with a losing mentality even if the opponents are much stronger than my players. We're ready even for penalties. Winning this competition will be a shot in the arm for my wards as they gear up to make a strong comeback in the second phase of the QSL Cup, he said.
He hoped the team will do well in absence of experienced Vladimir Weiss who underwent a surgery recently.
'We've to tighten up our defence. Ours is a good mix of youth and experience, who can make up for the absence of injured (Vladimir) Weiss. I'm optimistic about achieving a positive result.
'If you had noticed, young players scored the goals for us in the last two games in this tournament. To be realistic, I believe we've a 50 per cent chance of winning the final, the Frenchman said.
The match will kick off at 7pm and will be decided in tie-breaker if extra time of 15 minutes each and regulation time end in stalemate.