Al-Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez addressed the media at the pre-match press conference ahead of the Amir Cup final against Al-Arabi, confirming his side’s readiness and motivation to win the title.
“We are really happy and proud to be in the final. It was not an easy way. We defeated Al-Kharaitiyat, and then Al-Wakrah on penalties, and Al-Duhail in the semifinals, which was an amazing game from our part,” said the coach.
“Tomorrow we play the final, and it will be really difficult. Everybody knows the difficulties in playing a final, with the tension, and also the extra motivation of our opponents, for sure. It’s an historic game for Al Arabi, and also for us. It will be really tough and complicated to win this game, because Al Arabi is a really good team.”
He added: “If somebody expects Al Sadd to win easily, then they don’t understand football because this is a final, and for sure, Al Arabi will put in a lot of effort to win this game. But we are in our best moment since I became coach at Al Sadd, with good performances from everybody in the team.”
As for his side being seen as favourites, Xavi said: “Everybody says we are favourites but we have to show it on the pitch. We are very proud to be here and we are ready to compete. Let’s see tomorrow if we can keep our level like in the last games. We’re very excited, for the fans and also for the players, because they deserve it. They’re doing really well.”
Asked about playing in the first game at Al Rayyan Stadium, Xavi remarked: “It’s an extra motivation for us to play in this amazing stadium. It means that the country is doing really well and preparing to host the 2022 World Cup, the best event in football. I’m also particularly happy that the supporters can watch the game here in the stadium; it means also that the country is doing well with regards to the coronavirus. I think it’s the best scenario to play football really well and to show everybody that Al Sadd can give an amazing performance.”
Xavi was also asked about the gap between the two sides in league positions and its effect on the game, and he said: “In my opinion, it’s totally different. It doesn’t mean anything that Al Sadd is at the top of the league and Al Arabi is almost in the last position. Tomorrow, it doesnt mean anything. It’s a final, it’s completely different. Every game in football is totally different.”
“Tomorrow, it will be like a war because for them, it’s a very special game. For many years, they haven’t played a final. So imagine the extra motivation the players can have.”
“In football you can explain everything, but at the end, the reality is what happens on the pitch. Tomorrow, we have to start at the beginning, take the ball and attack, create chances and show our real level.
Xavi went on to confirm that apart from injured defender Bahaa Al-Laithi, everybody else is ready and fit to play tomorrow’s game.
He added: “It’s really difficult for me to choose 11 players to play in the lineup. Everybody deserves to play and we have a great squad. Tomorrow we start with 11 and have five substitutions. I have to be honest, I will feel sad for the players who won’t play tomorrow because everybody deserves to play these kinds of games.”
Asked about being selected in the all-time Dream Team by France Football magazine, Xavi said: “It is amazing and incredible to be in this lineup. It’s like a dream when you see the names and I did not expect it. It’s incredible to be named alongside Maradona, Pele, Messi and Ronaldo.”
“But I don’t feel this award is for me, I represent the style of football of Barcelona and the Spanish national team. It’s not for me. It’s for all the players.”
As for the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, Xavi said: “The country is preparing well and I am very proud to be part of this project and proud to live here in Qatar, to be with these kinds of players; many of the Al Sadd players are in the national team. I am very proud of them, and for sure they will compete well in 2022.”