Cheetahs on cloud nine!
Joyous scenes broke out at the Qatar SC Stadium when referee Abdulla Ali blew the final whistle for the 2017 QSL Cup final between Al Gharafa and Al Rayyan. Members of the triumphant Al Gharafa side hugged and congratulated each other on their second QSL Cup triumph, after the first edition in 2009, that also ended their five-year title drought.
QSL Online spoke to victorious Al Gharafa players, who expressed their delight on the achievement.
Luis Jimenez, captain
This was the best match we played this season, which has been very difficult for us. We had expected the season to be tough with almost 15 new players, but we worked hard and gave off our best. Still, we got less than what we deserved. We couldn’t finish in the top half of the QNB Stars League after its first phase. So the QSL Cup triumph gives a tremendous boost to the players’ confidence. Against a strong side like Al Rayyan, we excelled in all departments of the game in the final.
“I congratulate the fans, club management, my team-mates, and technical and administrative staff on this achievement. I hope this victory will be a huge motivation for us in the remaining part of the season,” said Burhan.
The goalkeeper proved a stumbling block for rivals right throughout the tournament. He came up with some outstanding efforts, especially in the final.
Fahad Al Shammari
“We had a good journey right through our campaign in the QSL Cup and I thank God for the crowning moments. We qualified for the semifinals with one round of group matches to spare and worked very hard for the semifinal as well as final. Al Rayyan were tough opponents, but we held firm till the end.
I’m very, very happy that we could pull it off. It was indeed a tough game. We weren’t the favourites going into the final. We were up against strong opponents and we had many areas for improvement. However, we found solutions to them. All of us played our roles pretty well, especially in the final. I’m also glad that I could help Al Gharafa win a sliverware after a long time. I will cherish this moment for long. We needed this triumph to get our campaign back on track in the QNB Stars League.
“I’m too happy to have won my first trophy with Al Gharafa. Our campaign was right on track in this tournament from start to end. Our efforts didn’t go in vain. I thank our fans for the support and want to assure them that we will put up a strong performance in the second phase of the league. I’m sure this performance will inspire us to do well in the AFC Champions League as well.
“Hats off to all team staff whose hard work made this success possible. It helped us make an impact on the season, which hasn’t been that good for us so far. It’ll inspire us to put up improved performances. We also have the AFC Champions League play-off (against Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor) coming up. I believe we’ve done well in the QNB Stars League as well, but were unlucky.
Monkez Mohammed Adi
Our performance in the final was superb. We were on top throughout the game. Al Rayyan played with their full team and that made it hard for us. But we did well in defence and offence. We played our natural game, created chances and succeeded to a great extent in taking advantage of them. The title win made me more delighted. Al Gharafa are a big team with rich history and tradition. The QSL Cup triumph will definitely motivate us to fare better in the second phase of QNB Stars League.