By Sports Reporter/Doha
A gala atmosphere marked the draw for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Amir Cup football tournament held at the JW Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Sunday.
The draw was conducted in the presence of officials of the Qatar Football Association as well as of the eight clubs who qualified for the business end of Qatar’s richest football tournament.
Al Rayyan seem to have been given the easiest path to the semi-finals after they were drawn to play second division outfit Al Markhiya in the last eight.
Al Markhiya, who have been the standout team of the second division, are the only club from outside the top flight who have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Amir Cup after defeating Al Gharafa in the round of 16 earlier this month.
However they face a daunting task in the quarter-finals as Al Rayyan are not only six-times Amir Cup champions but have also been in excellent form in the ongoing QNB Stars League where they are in second position on the table with 31 points, two behind leaders Al Duhail and one above Al Sadd.
Defending champions Al Duhail will face Al Sailiya, Al Sadd will take on Al Wakrah and Al Arabi will clash with neighbours Al Ahli in the remaining three quarter-final matches.
The winners of the Al Duhail vs Al Sailiya match will take on the winners of the Al Sadd vs Al Wakrah clash in the semi-finals, while the winners of the Al Ahli vs Al Arabi tie will match wits with the winners of the Al Rayyan vs Al Markhiya.
Al Sadd manager Abdulla al-Breik said his team will go all out to once against stamp their authority on the tournament.
“The Emir Cup is a strong tournament and obviously you have to be at your best to win it. You should be ready to take on every team,” said al-Breik.
“Al Sadd are the most successful team in Qatar’s history in the Amir Cup (15 titles) and we would surely like to add one more piece of silverware to our trophy cabinet,” he added.
Ali Hamoud al-Nuaimi , the QFA’s Head of Competitions, said the draw is fair to everyone.
“It’s a balanced draw and could lead to two strong semi-final matches if Al Duhail, Al Sadd, Al Rayyan and Al Arabi win their quarter-final encounters,” said al-Nuaimi.
He praised Al Markhiya for making it this far in the tournament. “They played with a strong strategy and it paid off as they managed to defeat Al Gharafa in the round of 16. They are capable of further surprises,” he added.
Adib al-Awadi of Al Wakrah said his team will have it tough against top side Al Sadd in the last eight.
“Al Sadd are tough opponents as everybody knows but we are confident. After all we beat them in the league 2-1,” said al-Awadi.
“But the Amir Cup is a different tournament because it’s a knockout, but we will wee,” he added.
Al Sailiya manager Mohamed Qambar also said his team will face a tough time against Al Duhail.
“A draw is like a lottery. Nobody wishes to face sides like Al Sadd and Al Duhail in a knockout competition but we will do our best and try to make the last 4.
“We have the players of the highest quality, however and they will be keen to make a good impression.”
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