Doha, 23 September 2020 - Al Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez expressed delight at his side’s qualification for the Round of 16 of the 2020 AFC Champions League and said they were ready to face any team.
Al Sadd booked their berth in the knockouts after their 1-1 draw against Al Nassr in the penultimate round last week and Xavi said they will look to finish on top of the group as they play Sepahan in the final group game on Thursday.
“We are happy to qualify for the Round of 16. We want to finish well in the group stage, by winning this game,” said Xavi.
“We will play against a very good team. They are well-organised, especially in defence. They control possession very well and they want to attack. In my opinion, this is the most difficult group in this tournament, because the three opponents are really tough.”
“We are improving from one match to the next. We have done well in the group, and we have a chance to finish on top.”
Xavi also signalled his intent to make some changes to the team, saying: “We will rest some players, and some substitute players will play in the next match.”
“Yes, Pedro and Baghdad will be suspended, and this is an opportunity to rest them after playing tough matches recently, and after qualifying for the next round, we have more options in (terms of) the players.”
He added: “The next match will be an opportunity for the young players who go through training every day with all their strength; it will be a chance for them to play for the team.”
Asked about his preferred opponent in the Round of 16, the coach said: “There are some strong teams in Group C. We must defeat Sepahan first and wait for the result of Al-Nassr and Al-Ain to know who we will face, but we are ready for any team in the round of 16. We will wait and see what will happen. All the teams in the next round will be strong and ready to compete.”
Regarding his evaluation of the tournament so far, Xavi remarked: “The competition is very good and all the teams are doing well and all this is because of the coaches’ efforts. The defensive strategies of all the teams have been good, unlike last year.”
“Pakhtakor has been very good in the tournament and their players are doing well in defence and attack. Until now, they are one of the best teams in the competition, and my favourite so far.”
Xavi concluded by saying: “We want to play well throughout the match. This is football and we must study the opponents well. We must improve in many things. I told the players that we must compete well and show passion and ambition in every match, especially as we seek to go far in this tournament which includes the best teams in Asia.”