Xavi: We are very disappointed, for the club and the fans

Al-Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez expressed his sadness after his side exited the 2020 AFC Champions League with a 1-0 defeat to Persepolis.

Speaking at the press conference following the match, Xavi said: “I feel very sad. This was a good chance to qualify.”

“I think the game was really equal. We had more possession, more shots and better opportunities, but as I told the players, in this competition you make just one mistake and you’re out.”

“We made a mistake from a set-piece, a corner, and we didn’t focus. This is football. We controlled the game, we created chances, we had a very good attitude and we were aggressive. We were focused until the last minute, but one mistake and we are out. This is the competition, and this is football. We have to accept it and learn from our mistakes.”

“It’s a pity because after a game like that, normally you have to win. Sometimes, football is not fair.”

The Al Sadd coach added: “Also, let me tell you something about the competition. In my humble opinion, it’s a big shame that this competition, the best in Asia, does not have VAR. It’s a big shame.”

“If we had VAR today, there would be a penalty for us. I don’t want to talk about referees because I know that their job is really difficult, and sometimes football is very fast, and you have to make decisions in seconds. But VAR helps the referees a lot. If we had VAR today, we would be talking about a different result.”

“The best competition in Asia deserves the best conditions to play, and today we didn’t have that.”

Xavi also said: “We must accept the reality, we lost today because of small details. We were controlling the game and created enough chances to score, we had many shots from outside the box, and many corners. In my opinion, we were better than Persepolis in footballing terms, but we are out because of a small detail. We have to accept that, and continue.”

“This is the way; we have to accept our own mistakes. There is no other way. We have to continue and keep going, trying again and again. We have to compete better. If we do that, we may go further in this competition.”

Regarding the fitness level of the players in the final minutes of the match, Xavi said: “This (fatigue) is not the main reason (for the defeat). It is normal for players to feel tired, it is really tough playing games every three days. It is difficult to play 90 minutes. But it’s not a reason, because Persepolis was also tired.”

“It’s a matter of mistakes. We have to control the details. This is football. It would have changed the result if we had scored one goal. I think we were a bit better than the opponent, but we are out. We have to accept it. We have to congratulate the other team. This is sport.”

Asked about the penalty appeal after Pedro was brought down in the box, Xavi said: “Everybody saw what happened and it’s really unfair. This is the truth, and the main reason is because we didn’t have VAR. With VAR, everybody can see on the TV. What can I say? I cannot add anything. This is the truth. We are here to tell the truth.”

As for what Al-Sadd needs to reach the final in the next edition of the tournament, the coach stated: “In my opinion, we need more luck. Today, we didn’t have luck. In the previous years sometimes we needed more spirit, more winning mentality and more focus. This is the way to compete, not only in football. Values are very important in sport, in this kind of competition. The knockout stage is really really tough. So we have to be more focused and have more intensity, and more ambition sometimes. We have to keep going. This is football.”

Xavi concluded by saying: “We are really disappointed, for the fans, and for the club. Of course, we didn’t deserve to go home. But this is the score. You must want to take revenge all the time. This is the way.”