Al Sadd outgun Duhail, claim Sheikh Jassim Cup
Ali Assad nets winner as Xavi Hernandez claims his first title as coach for QSL champions
Maintaining their winning run, Qatar Stars League champions Al Sadd defeated Duhail Sports Club 1-0 to claim the Sheikh Jassim Cup on Saturday, securing the first trophy for their coach Xavi Hernandez.
After their skirmishes in the AFC Asian Champions League, won by Sadd, the drop in intensity was apparent in the season-opener. Even so, Sadd carried far too many guns for Duhail. They dominated possession and created more chances, especially in the first half, when they had several chances to kill off the game.
Eventually, a goal from Ali Assad in the 14th minute made all the difference as Xavi celebrated his elevation to the Sadd hot seat at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium against a familiar opposition who were reduced to nine men in the end.
On a warm night, the changes in the Sadd eleven – apart from the ones forced due to suspension – was an indication of the need to conserve themselves ahead of the busy months. They rested their first-choice goalkeeper Saad al Sheeb and also kept South Korean Nam Tae-Hee on the bench till midway through the second half.
Nam’s absence didn’t impact the attack much as the hosts fired in an early goal, thanks to the energy and enterprise of Hassan Al Haydos and also to some shoddy defending on Duhail’s part. Haydos enjoyed an uninterrupted run right through the heart of the Duhail defence before finding Ali Assad unmarked to his right. Assad gave no chance to Duhail goalkeeper Claude Lecomte.
Haydos kept troubling the Duhail defence but Sadd couldn’t cash in on the possession and chances they enjoyed. Haydos himself missed out on opportunities to swell Sadd’s advantage in the first half while Hashim Ali – who came in for the suspended Baghdad Bounedjah — blasted his shot wide after he was set up nicely by Akram Afif. Assad’s miss close to half-time, when he had no one challenging him, was even more glaring.
Duhail’s attacks were few and far between. In the absence of Almoez Ali, Edmilson toiled without much support while their Iraqi recruit Mohanad Ali, given a start for the first time in three games, struggled to make an impact. They were reduced to ten men when Luiz Martin Junior received his second yellow card from referee Saoud Ali Al-Athba, after consulting VAR, in the 68th minute.
Frustration was obvious in the Duhail play as time wore on even as Sadd’s Nam and Abdulaziz Al-Ansari faltered with almost open goal in front late in the game. The hosts almost paid for those lapses when Duhail substitute Mohammed Muntari missed a sitter in injury time with Saad Al-Dosari at his mercy in the Sadd goal. Adding insult to injury was another red card, to Assim Omer Madebo, right at the final whistle, as bitterness enveloped Duhail. The sweet taste of victory belonged to Sadd, deservingly so.