17 May 2018 - 0:14
Coach Belmadi relishes Al Duhail’s ‘special season’
By Rizwan Rehmat I The Peninsula
DOHA: Djamel Belmadi, Al Duhail’s long-serving coach, is a man of few words. Even at the best of times, you won’t see him displaying raw emotions.
However, after guiding his team on Tuesday to the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League and to this week’s Amir Cup final, even Belmadi seemed a bit humbled by what his players have done in the last few months.
“We are happy to have qualified for the last-eight of the AFC Champions League,” Belmadi said after his side beat UAE’s Al Ain 4-1 in Doha, just days after QNB Stars League (QSL) champions won the first leg 4-2.
“That was our main goal. We are happy with that we achieved qualification without a loss or a draw. My team was able to present a special performance in what is a special season,” the popular Algerian added.
“The players proceeded with their match performances in a perfect way. We want to thank God for all these successes. This was achieved because of everyone’s effort inside the stadium and outside. I wish the team continues to play in this fashion,” he added.
“It is important to have a complete team and this was our problem in the past when we did not or could not have successful alternatives. This time we only focused on top championships,” Belmadi said.
When asked about Al Ain’s coach’s confidence of sealing victory on Tuesday at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium, Belmadi said his team was very keen to seal their last-eight berth than to focus on what the rival camp said.
“I said before the match that his quotes should have been addressed only to his players. It (his quotes) made us even more determined to win this game. Our focus was clear to pass this match with a win and seal the last-eight berth. We were in a closed camp for two days before the match while Al Ain team came one day only before the game,” Belmadi said.
When asked about the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League, Belmadi said: “The different thing about our previous participation is that QSL will begin before the start of the AFC Champions League quarter-finals. This will give us many strong matches as we prepare for the last-eight stage.”
Key Al Duhail defender Youssef El Arabi said: “Our win over Al Ain in the first leg gave us a great deal of confidence for our return leg. Thank God for this amazing win. We have reached the quarter-finals. We have reached thus far without a loss or a draw. That is a huge effort from the players and the team management.”
He added: “I am very happy with my goals in this game and in other matches as well. It has been a big season for us. We want to continue in this fashion.”
Al Duhail striker Ismail Mohamed echoed El Arabi’s sentiments.
“It has been a big season for Al Duhail. Imagine going the season without a loss or a draw,” Mohammed told Al Duhail website in an interview.
“The victory achieved (on Tuesday) was possible because we got great support from the fans. Their enthusiasm and backing in the entire season was special,” he added.
“I hope this great support will continue for us and for Al Sadd (the second Qatari side to reach AFC Champions League quarters). This has been a great season,” Mohammed added.
Al Duhail captain Karim Boudiaf praised his team for a ‘especial effort’.
“I give my thanks to God on this great result. It was a special performance from my team-mate who proved their worth by reaching the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League,” Boudiaf, who plays for Qatar also, said.
“Reaching the quarters only represents a step in our journey. The team wants to win the championship. I wish for more special performances as we prepare for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals,” he added.
“We will continue to work hard,” he said.
“I take this opportunity to thank all the fans who came to the stadium to support the team,” Boudiaf said.
On Saturday night, Al Duhail take on Al Rayyan in the Amir Cup final, the final game of the domestic season.
If Al Duhail win the final, it will be their third trophy of the season having already won the QNB Stars League title and the Qatar Cup at the end of last month.