Al Sadd keen to do an encore in Qatar Cup
Al Sadd have been a regular presence in the Qatar Cup and also in its earlier version Heir Apparent’s Cup. They qualified this time after finishing as runners-up in the QNB Stars League.
The Wolves ended up on 49 points with 16 wins, one draw and five defeats.
The Qatar Cup defending champions will take on Al Rayyan, whom they defeated 3-1 in last year’s semifinal. Al Sadd beat erstwhile El Jaish 2-1 in the title clash.
The second spot changed hands between Al Sadd and Al Rayyan, but Al Sadd occupied it regularly once the second phase of the competition started.
Al Sadd were very much in the QNB Stars League title race till Week 19, but the 3-4 defeat to Al Duhail after a thrilling game dashed their hopes.
Had Al Sadd beaten Al Duhail, things might have been different as only two points separated them going into their face-off.
Interestingly, Al Sadd (27) were two points behind Al Duhail (29) at the end of the competition’s first phase.
Al Sadd went on to lose 1-2 to Umm Salal in Week 20 and 0-1 to Al Khor in Week 21 before firing on all cylinders against Al Kharaitiyat in the last round, winning 9-1. That was the biggest victory margin in this season’s QNB Stars League.
Al Sadd performed consistently well throughout the tournament, but for the occasional slips. There had been a remarkable improvement in their game technically under much-experienced Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira.
They made very limited changes to their squad this season, with all four professional players — former Barcelona superstar and World Cup winner Xavi Hernandez of Spain, Algerians Baghdad Bounedjah as well as Jugurtha Hamroun and Iran international Morteza Mohammed — staying.
Al Sadd recruited a number of players during the winter transfer window, namely Hamed Ismail, Ali Faridoun, Sami Sabit, Abdulkarim Hassan and Akram Afif.
Al Sadd won the most number of games (16), after Al Duhail (19). At the same time, they had the best defence, conceding only 25 goals, two less than Al Duhail.
They were the second best in terms of the number of goals scored (68) compared to Al Duhail’s 86.
Al Sadd can still look forward to many tournaments, such as the Qatar Cup, Emir’s Cup and AFC Champions League. They are the holders of Emir’s Cup as well.