‘The Lions’ coach Laurent Blanc has one goal for the 2021-2022 QNB Stars League (QSL) season — to win every game. Prior to kickoff, the Frenchman stayed away from specific targets but believed that Al Rayyan’s rigorous preseason preparations would pay off.
“I am very happy with the preseason preparations because all players worked wonderfully well,” Blanc told reporters ahead of Al Rayyan’s opening match against Umm Salal, set to kick off at 8:20 pm on Al Gharafa Stadium’s turf today.
“The fact that I saw all bases covered means the players prepared well for the new season. If we do not prepare well, then that means we will not present a special season. We trained for three or four weeks in Spain. I think the squad prepared well – physically and mentally so that we can be a force in the new season. I can’t predict the result but we prepared the team – like last year – to win matches whenever we step on the pitch.” He added.
After Al Sadd won the previous season, Blanc has high hopes for Al Rayyan in the upcoming campaign.
“We, at Al Rayyan, have the motivation and desire to play matches for wins. I cannot talk about my goal at the present time as I am waiting for more players to join during the next stage in order to complete the team’s roster,” he said yesterday.
Only Gabriel Mercado, an Argentinian, has left Al Rayyan, and the club expects to recruit a fifth foreign player shortly to join Franck Kom, Johan Boli, Yacine Brahimi and Shojae Khalilzadeh on the team’s list of international players. Umm Salal will be a tough opponent in the first game, according to Al Rayyan’s Abdulrahman Al Karbi. Umm Salal finished 10th in the past season.
“I think that the match at the beginning of the league is always difficult and Umm Salal is a team that plays in a defensive manner, but our goal is to start the season well and get the three points,” Al Karbi told reporters.
Although playing against a quality club in the league’s opening encounter would be difficult for Umm Salal coach Sergio Farias, he expects his squad to put on an impressive display.
“We’ll enter the match knowing we must be mentally and physically focused. We’ve prepared well. We played five friendly matches during the training camp,” Farias said yesterday.
“The beginning of the new season will show who’ll be the strong teams. Everyone from our side is aware of that. We must do our best to achieve the desired goal since the team has prepared well. We played strong friendly matches during our training camp,” said Sergio.
Al Gharafa will play promoted Al Shamal in the first match of the QSL season at Al Gharafa Stadium. As part of the second match of the day, Qatar SC and Al Ahli will face off at Al Wakrah Stadium.