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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Xavi looks ahead after notching first trophy success

We have work to do if we are to win more titles, says Al Sadd’s Spanish coach.
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Al Sadd Sports Club players celebrate their Sheikh Jassim Cup triumph on Saturday. Sad beat Duhali SC 1-0 in the season-opener. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Al Sadd laid down an early marker for the upcoming Qatar Stars League (QSL) season with their triumph on Saturday in the Sheikh Jassim Cup, taking a small but decisive step towards the targets set by their new coach.

When he took over the Al Sadd reins, Xavi Hernandez, the Spanish legend, had stressed that his goal was to win titles. On Saturday, Sadd won their 15th Sheikh Jassim Cup and 70th overall title in their 50 years of existence, defeating Duhail Sports Club 1-0.

The latest success underlined their pre-eminent status in the country and also revealed their intentions ahead of the new QSL season kicking off on Wednesday. Xavi was clear what the title meant for himself and for the players, his mood celebratory but his thoughts firmly grounded.

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Al Sadd’s Spanish coach Xavi Hernandez with the trophy. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

“I’m very happy to win my first title with Al Sadd as a coach. We worked hard throughout the past few weeks, in order to be able to win titles,” Xavi said after the win. “Today, we are on the podium as champions of the first trophy on offer this season. This gives us a lot of happiness and also a psychological boost, to push us forward in other tournaments.”

Xavi, who turned out for Sadd as a player for four seasons before becoming their coach, was clear that there was more work to be done. These are still early days, but there were some glaring flaws in all the three matches they played against Duhail – two in the AFC Champions League and the one on Saturday. Duhail succeeded in stretching the Sadd defence many times, but blew their chances through mistimed final passes or poor shooting. Sadd drew once and won the other two, and confidence, more than anything else, will be the biggest takeaway for the Wolves.

“We’re still at the start,” admitted Xavi. “We’ve a lot more work to do if we’re to win more titles. We’ll keep doing that,” he added.

Stability in defence will be Xavi’s immediate focus while in the forward line, Baghdad Bounedjah will have to strike form quickly. The man who scored 39 goals last season in the QSL did not look his sharpest in the two matches he played, but as Xavi said, these are still early days.

A heartening factor for the Spaniard is the form of Hassan Al Haydos. The midfielder was a livewire and if he strikes an understanding with South Korean Nam Tae-Hee, Sadd will be well-served in the new season.
Sadd will kick off the QSL season with a match against promoted team Al Wakrah at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Wednesday.