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Qatar tribune

Tribune News Network


Umm Salal face an uphill task as they take on league leaders Al Duhail in the final of the Ooredoo Cup at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Tuesday night. The title clash, which kicks-off at 10pm, is expected to be an exciting one as both teams are looking to tournament for the first time.

Duhail, who qualified for the final at the expense of arch-rivals Al Sadd in the semi-finals, are runaway favourites for the title. The Red Knights have a lethal combination of players, especially in forward areas where captain Almoez Ali, Ferjani Sassi, Mohamed Muntari, Ismail Mohamed and Nam Tae-Hee can create havoc.

Duhail’s Argentinian coach Hernan Crespo, however, was wary of Umm Salal, who fought back from a goal down to beat Al Arabi 2-1 in the other semi-final. “Umm Salal’s presence in the final shows their ambitions and this deserved to be there,” said Crespo on Sunday.

“It also means that they have the resources to reach thus far and that should make us study the opponents well. These matches can’t be assessed based on the results of the league and the team that has the highest concentration will win the title. We will prepare our players well in order to win the first title this season. In cup matches, it is not possible to rely on the ranking of teams in the league,” he added.

Duhail are frontrunners to win the QNB Stars League, with a two-point advantage over Arabi and also have a game in hand. Crespo is pleased with how Duhai’s season has gone by but is keen to make it better with an Ooredoo Cup trophy.

“We are targeting our first title in the current season,” he said. “We succeeded in reaching this stage of the tournament after playing six matches against big teams and we were able to win five matches and draw one. The team was not defeated at all and this means to us that the team is doing well.

“We will rely on players who are physically and technically ready, and we will prepare all our players. This is a match that cannot be taken for granted and we must be at the top of our focus in order to appear at the level that guarantees us the title,” added Crespo.

Meanwhile, a title triumph today would boost Umm Salal’s morale as they are languishing in 11th and penultimate place at the QNB Stars League table with 13 points. The Orange Fortress progressed to the semifinals after topping their group, but are in the relegation battle in the league.

Today, they will rely on Yassin al-Bakhit, who scored the winning goal against Al Arabi in the semifinal, in addition to Abdullah Khafifi, Joao Teixeira, Adil Rhaili, Nasser al-Nasr and Adel Alawi.

Umm Salal’s Moroccan coach Talal El Karkouri said the team has renewed belief after having outfought inform Arabi in the last four. “The match against Duhail is crucial and we will be ready in order to win the title, especially since victory over Al Arabi in the semifinal gave the players a great morale boost,” he said yesterday.

“Definitely an important and strong match against the league leaders, but we see it as an opportunity to win the title. Duhail are an excellent team and have players at a very high level. They present themselves well and are on top of the league table,” he added.

El Karkouri was in no doubt what Umm Salal will be against today, but was confident that a Cup game can throw up surprises.“Duhail will, of course, be more difficult than the previous match with Al Arabi. I hope that we do not repeat what happened during the first half in the Al Arabi match and that we appear in a satisfactory manner through which we can achieve a good result. We have nothing to lose and this is the nature of the cup finals,” the Moroccan said

“We must try to do our best to achieve victory, especially since we got the opportunity to reach the final. I have great confidence in our players in order to make an effort to win the title. We will play in a different way and style, and all we seek is crowning glory,” added El Karkouri.

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