Preview – Round of 16 1st Leg: Al Duhail SC (QAT) vs Al Sadd SC (QAT)
Al Wakrah: After contesting a two-horse race in the Qatar Stars League and going head-to-head in the Amir Cup final, Doha sides Al Duhail and Al Sadd take their rivalry to the Continental stage as they face-off in the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 first leg on Tuesday.
Al Sadd ultimately sealed the league title with a seven-point margin over runners-up Al Duhail, while the latter stormed to a 4-1 victory over their rivals to lift the Amir Cup trophy.
Both sides had reached the 2018 AFC Champions League knock-out stages, before being eliminated by eventual finalists Persepolis, who defeated Al Duhail in the quarter-finals and Al Sadd in the semi-finals.
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Unlike last year when they won nine in a row, Al Duhail’s 2019 AFC Champions League campaign saw mixed performances. They only won two of their six group stage matches, but it was enough to send them through from a ‘Group of Death’ which included former Continental champions Al Hilal, Al Ain and Esteghlal.
Rui Faria’s men made two major changes to their squad over the summer; Youssef El Arabi and Shoya Nakajima, who between them scored five of the team’s 11 goals in the group stage, moved to Europe. Skipper Youssef Msekni returned after a short loan spell at KAS Eupen, while Iraqi prodigy Mohanad Ali arrived from Al Shorta.
For Al Sadd, this will be their sixth knock-out stage appearance, more than any other Qatari side. They were the last West Asian side to lift the AFC Champions League trophy back in 2011. Since then, they have reached the Round of 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals once each.
After being the club’s top scorer in the group stage, Spanish star Xavi announced his retirement over the summer and will now lead from the dugout as he replaces Jesualdo Ferreira at the helm. Coincidentally, his first competitive match as a coach is against the same side he played his last as a player back in June.
Korea Republic playmaker Nam Tae-hee swapped Al Duhail for Al Sadd over the summer and will make his debut against his former team.
And there will be a battle of the brothers as Al Sadd’s Akram Afif takes on his older sibling Ali Afif of Al Duhail.
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