Doha, 8 March 2023 - Qatar football giants Al Sadd kicked off their Amir Cup campaign in style, thrashing Al Markhiya 4-0 to storm into the quarter-finals at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium.
The record 18-time champions put up a dominant display against Al Markhiya as they booked their quarter-final clash against Al Sailiya, who advanced after edging Al Rayyan 2-1 in their Round of 16 game.
Baghdad Bounedjah handed Al Sadd the lead as he fired a volley in from outside the box on a rebound from Al Markhiya goalkeeper Loukay Sherif, who blocked Akram Afif’s attempt in the 11th minute.
Al Sadd continued to be on the driving seat and opened a two-goal cushion in the 32nd minute through Ali Asad. Afif again set up the goal with a low cross from the left beating Sherif for Asad to score in an open goal.
The Wolves scored two more goals in the second half with Santi Cazorla scoring their third after an assist from Bounedjah in 62nd minute. Ayoub El Kaabi sealed a thumping win after converting a penalty in 90+9 minutes.
“It was not an easy match as Al Markhiya did not give us much space to attack. But we performed well and achieved what we wanted from the match and qualified for the quarter-finals,” Al Sadd coach Juan Manuel Lillo said after the win.
“This victory will us boost our morale before facing Al Duhail next in the QNB Stars League. We played with many young players today and they appeared at a good level. We rested many of our key players in the second half,” he added.
Al Sadd goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb said: “A 4-0 win is a great way to start the important Amir Cup tournament and we are happy with the result. Overall, we played well but we could have presented a better performance. Our aim is to win this prestigious tournament again to make our fans happy.”
Earlier, Sami Trabelsi’s Al Sailiya – struggling on the bottom at QNB Stars League (QSL) – scored a welcome victory over Al Rayyan at Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium.
Carlos Strandberg put the Peregrines ahead in the ninth minute before Yohan Boli equalised for Al Rayyan in the 26th minute.
Substitute Mehrdad Mohammadi scored the all-important goal in 79th minute taking Al Sailiya into the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, Al Arabi, who are enjoying a fine season, will take on Al Shamal in their Round of 16 match game at Thani Bin Jassim Stadium. Al Arabi coach Younes Ali said his team that is second in the QSL standings will give its best against Al Shamal to advance in the tournament.
“This championship is dear to us, and everyone seeks to shake hands with His Highness the Amir in the final. Amir Cup matches are always difficult and beyond expectations, and the key to the title starts from winning this game against Al Shamal,” said the coach.
Al Shamal coach Wesam Rizk said standings in the QSL doesn’t reflect much on the Amir Cup matches as he hoped for victory against the Dream Team.
“Amir Cup matches have no criteria, and we have great ambition to overcome Al Arabi in this game. The Amir Cup is a tournament that is beloved to everyone, and we will do our best to reach the farthest point,” said Rizk, whose team is 9th on the QSL points table.
In other Round of 16 clash today, Al Wakrah – placed fourth in QSL standings – will start as favourites against second Division side Al Shahania at Hamad Bin Khalifa Stadium.
“The Amir Cup is a very important tournament, and everyone is striving to reach the final. We know Al Shahania well and we are capable of defeating them,” Al Wakrah coach Marquez Lopez told a press conference yesterday.
However, Al Shahania coach Alvaro Mejia was aiming to pull off a shock win against the Blue Waves.
“Facing Al Wakrah will be difficult, but we will go into this game aiming to win it, and to clinch qualification for the next round,” he said.