While the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020 participants Al Ahly arrived with their English fans to a roaring welcome at the Hamd International Airport on Sunday, Al Duhail coach Sabri Lamouchi cautioned his team that the clash against the reigning African champions Al Ahly on Thursday will not be easy.
The Qatari champions have received a bye into the second round with their scheduled first-round opponents, New Zealand side Auckland City, having pulled out of the tournament due to coronavirus restrictions.
Al Duhail have got down to business as they prepared for the tournament at the Education City Stadium, the venue of their opening match. Lamouchi felt Al Ahly’s experience playing at international championships will give the Egyptian side the advantage.
“It’s going to be a very difficult match. Al Ahly have experience in such international championships either in the African Champions league or the Club World Cup. They have the majority of the players who are part of the national team and they have great experience. But from our side we believe in our chances and are really focused,” the Frenchman said.
“I just want to tell the Duhail’s fans that we are proud and it is a great honour for us to represent Qatar in this competition and we will do everything we can to honour Qatari football and delight the Al Duhail fans. Our preparations have been normal and we must be able to compete in this wonderful championship. And we will hopefully take advantage of all our chances,” he added.
Having first played in Qatar 15 years ago, Lamouchi is no stranger to the country. When asked his opinion of the nation that will play host to several massive football tournaments, most notably the FIFA Club World Cup and the FIFA World Cup, he said: “I don’t even need to talk about it as Qatar is in a very good position. I came to Qatar as a player in 2006, then as a coach in 2015 and now I’m back. The country has changed a lot in terms of facilities, the infrastructure, the roads and the airport. There have always been amazing competitions in Qatar not only in football but also in other sports. There are amazing championships in a small country like Qatar.
And about the team’s new striker Michael Olunga, who scored a hat-trick in Duhail’s Amir Cup last 16 win over Al-Ahli, Lamouchi said: “He has just arrived and he needs time to adapt with us and sure he will be a great addition to the team.”
The FIFA Club World Cup, which Qatar is hosting for the second time, will kick-off with a match between Mexican side Tigres and Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Thursday. Al Duhail and Al Ahly will face off later on the same day at Education City Stadium.
The Tigres-Ulsan winners will move on to play the Copa Libertadores champions – Palmeiras and Santos will contest the final on 30 January – in the semi-finals, while Al Duhail or Al Ahly will take on European winners Bayern Munich. The champions will be crowned following the final at Education City Stadium on February 11.
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