Xavi: Al Sadd's target is the semi-finals
Doha: Head coach Xavi Hernandez has set Al Sadd a semi-final target in the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019, with the Doha-based side kicking off their campaign against Oceania champions Hienghène Sport at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Wednesday.
A win over the New Caledonia side, who are making their debut in the global event, will take Qatar champions Al Sadd to a second round meeting with Mexican outfit Monterrey and Xavi is hoping his team can emulate recent showings by Asian teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
UAE's Al Ain FC made the final last year while Japan's Kashima Antlers were runners-up in the 2016 edition. Al Sadd finished third in the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.
Should Al Sadd navigate past Hienghène and Monterrey, their semi-final date will be against UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool.
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“Of course we want to reach the final but this will be very hard,” said Xavi. “We want to repeat the achievements of the Asian teams who reached the final in recent years.
“We will play in this competition with an aim to have good matches and show our capabilities. We have the best generation (of players) in the history of Qatari football and we have good foreign players.
“Our ambition is to reach the semi-finals, at least, but we must respect all the teams that we will be playing against and take it one match at a time.”
The 39-year-old Xavi, who will be taking part in the FIFA Club World Cup as a coach after having won the title with Spanish giants Barcelona as a player, is expecting a tough match against Hienghène Sport.
“You can’t expect what will happen in football,” said Xavi. “We will give it our best, as we will playing against a strong team who are the champions of OFC.
“It will be a great honour to become a coach in the competition after taking part as a player,” he added. “This gives me a lot of excitement to achieve more success in the competition.”
Hienghène Sport head coach Félix Tagawa, in paying tribute to Xavi and Al Sadd, is also expecting a tough challenge.
“We expect a difficult match against a big team who put a lot of pressure on their opponents,” said Tagawa. “We will also be playing against a big star who won a lot of titles in Europe and internationally.
“My job as a coach is to prepare the team in the best possible way for this match,” he explained.
"As amateur players, we live an ordinary life. We try to strike a balance between our work, family and playing football"— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) December 10, 2019
The town they represent has a population of just 2,500 people 🤯
But Bertrand Kai says Hienghene Sport are not at the #ClubWC to make up the numbers 🇳🇨🇫🇷💪
Hienghène set up camp in Doha 10 days ago and Tagawa said this will help them face the challenge that Al Sadd will pose.
“We arrived early in order to prepare technically and physically,” he said.
Al Sadd vs Hienghene Sport
Jassim bin Hamad Stadium
Kick-off: 2030 hours (local time)
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