Doha, 5 April 2022 - Al Sadd will spearhead Qatar’s charge in the new season of the AFC Champions League (ACL) as top four sides from the 2020-2021 QNB Stars League (QSL) will take part in Asia's premier club football event, getting underway on April 7 in Saudi Arabia.
Al Sadd, the winners of back-to-back QSL titles, are in strong Group E which includes Al Faisaly FC (Saudi Arabia), Al Wehdat SC (Jordan) and FC Nasaf (Uzbekistan).
The Wolves, coached by Javi Gracia, will open their campaign with a match against FC Nasaf on April 8 at Prince Mohamed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
The 2011 edition champions have made strong preparations for the tournament, with their team’s international players joining the side after Qatar’s home friendlies against Bulgaria and Slovenia last week.
Seasoned Hassan Al Haydos, who missed weeks of action due to an injury, has also joined the squad. Al Sadd have the likes of Spaniard Santi Cazorla with Qatar’s own Akram Afif also expected to shine in the tournament.
Cazorla scored six goals and eight assists for Al Sadd en route to the QSL title that saw them win 20 of the 22 matches, drawing the other two.
Apart from Al Sadd, Al Duhail will also be hoping for a strong performance in the event after their Amir Cup triumph last month.
The Red Knights are in Group D alongside Al Taawoun FC (Saudi Arabia), Pakhtakor FC (Uzbekistan) and Sepahan FC (Iran). Al Duhail are under new coach Hernan Crespo, a former Argentina forward as the 46-year-old replaced Luis Castro soon after the Amir Cup final.
Al Duhail will begin their campaign against Al Taawoun FC on April 7 at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.
The Amir Cup champions are powered by Toby Alderweireld - a La Liga winner with Atletico Madrid and a UEFA Champions League runner-up with Tottenham Hotspur apart from Almoez Ali.
Meanwhile, Al Rayyan are placed in Group A where they will face Al Hilal SFC (Saudi Arabia), FC Istiklol (Tajikistan) and Sharjah FC (UAE).
They will play their first match against FC Istiklol on April 8 at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium.
The Lions will be expecting a good show from Colombian star James Rodriguez, who had a positive debut season in the QSL having scored four goals and assisted seven in 12 appearances despite his team’s struggles as they finished eighth in the 12-team competition.
Meanwhile, Al Gharafa, who reached Jeddah on Sunday, will play their first match against Foolad Khouzestan FC on April 7 at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah.
Andrea Stramaccioni’s side will also face Ahal and Shabab Al Ahli in Group C.