Let The Battle Commence
Football fans in Qatar are up for a treat on Saturday as Al Sadd takes on Al Gharrafa at Khalifa International Stadium in the final of the 2012 Emir Cup.
The local season’s final fixture is always one of the most attended matches in Qatar, and with “The Leopards” and “The Wolves” renewing their rivalry after two hard seasons in which Lekhwiya dominated, we have to expect a great game of football.
Al Sadd, who were crowned Asian champions last November and also finished an impressive third in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan a month later, will be looking to end their poor local form and win only their second local trophy since the summer of 2008.
Winning the 2011 Qatar Stars Cup was never enough for the fans of the team that holds the record number of trophies in all local competitions, with 12 titles in the league, 13 in Emir Cup, Five in Heir Apparent Cup and 12 in Sheikh Jassim Cup.
For Al Gharrafa, winning the title on Saturday will be crucial in their worst season since 2006. The “Yellow & Blue” dominated the local scene between 2007 and 2010, winning three straight league titles, including the double in 2009, but with the arrival of Lekhwiya in the summer of 2010, it have been going from bad to worse for the “Leopards”.
At the start of this season, the “Leopards” brought in Brazilian forward Edmilson, Iranian international Mohammed Reza Khalatbari and Brazilian veteran midfielder Ze Roberto to support the attack, but they failed to impress and the team finished sixth in the league after a terrible first half of the season, in which they only achieved two wins in 11 matches.
Three new foreign players joined in instead of the previously mentioned trio, Brazilian forward Diego Tardelli, Iranian veteran striker Farhad Majidi and Ivoirian international Aruna Dindane, they made a difference but the results did not improve.
Sacking their French coach Bruno Metsu in March after a 5-1 home defeat against Al Rayyan, and bringing in Brazilian Paulo Silas, slightly changed the team’s fortunes, but still they failed to impress in the AFC Champions League and only a win against Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Tuesday will take them through to the next round.
The arrival of Silas changed Al Gharrafa's fortunes
Meanwhile, Al Sadd, who are led by Uruguayan coach Jorge Fossati, finished fourth in the league and lost the final of the Heir Apparent cup to Al Rayyan on penalties.
They started well this season, but just were not able to keep up with the demands of playing in three major tournaments, and their league form deteriorated as they made history in Korea and Japan. But, “The Wolves” were quickly back into action and they made a late charge for the league title before a 2-1 home defeat against Lekhwiya in round 18 ended their hopes.
Facts and Figures
Al Sadd finished fourth in the league with 10 wins, 6 draws and 6 defeats.
Al Gharrafa were sixth with 8 wins, 7 draws and 7 defeats.
Al Sadd scored 35 goals in the league this season, less than Al Rayyan (49), Lekhwiya (48) and equal to Al Jaish.
Al Gharrafa scored 26 in 22 matches, only better than Al Arabi (19), Umm Salal (20), Al Khurtiyath and Al Ahli (24).
Al Sadd conceded 24 goals in the league this season while Al Gharrafa conceded 27, Lekhwiya had the best defense line with only 16 goals conceded.
Al Sadd’s heaviest league defeat came against Al Gharrafa (3-1) in the final week of the season, Al Gharrafa heaviest loss was a 5-1 home defeat against Al Rayyan.
4-1 was the highest league win for both teams, Al Sadd against Al Arabi and Umm Salal, and Al Gharrafa against Al Ahli.
In the 2002 Emir Cup Final Al Gharrafa defeated Al Sadd 4-1 with goals from Emad Mohamed (2), Yousef Adam and Mujeb Hamed. Jafal Rashed scored the wolves’ only goal. It was the only time these two teams meet in the Emir Cup final.
Al Gharrafa came out winners in the last two Emir Cup encounters against Al Sadd. The Quarter-finals of the 2009 edition saw them winning on penalties after a 2-2 draw, and they also came out with a 3-1 victory in the quarter-finals of the 2011 edition.
In the last ten meetings between these two teams in all competitions al Gharrafa came out on top six times, while Al Sadd won twice.
The 2012 Emir Cup Final will be the 4th meeting between “The Leopards” and “The Wolves” this season.
August 2011 – Sheikh Jassim Cup
Al Sadd (1) Al Gharrafa (0) [Mohamed Abdul Rab 80’]
January 2012 – Qatar Stars League
Al Sadd (0) Al Gharrafa (0)
April 2012 – Qatar Stars League
Al Gharrafa (3) [Tardelli 19’ - Moayad Hassan 19’ 32’]
Al Sadd (1) [Nasser Nabil 49’]