Much spotlight will be on Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira and his Al Rayyan counterpart Michael Laudrup when they clash in the Qatar Cup’s first semifinal on Saturday, 21st April.
Ferreira’s Al Sadd will definitely look forward to continuing their superiority over Al Rayyan in recent times, while Laudrup will seek his second-ever win over Al Sadd as Al Rayyan coach.
Al Sadd emerged as victorious when they met in the Qatar Cup semifinal and Emir’s Cup final last season.
However, honours were even in the high-profile Qatar Clasico between the two sides with massive fan base in the QNB Stars League this season. While Al Rayyan won 2-1 in the first phase, Al Sadd won 2-0 in the second.
Both are master tacticians who are result-oriented. They are arguably the best coaches around. Veteran Ferreira is more experienced, having been in the profession since 1981 and coached teams in Spain, Greece and Egypt besides his native Portugal.
The 71-year-old took over Al Sadd in 2015 and has brought them much success. He is like a father and philosopher to the players, and has succeeded in making many youngsters come through the ranks. Many players have acknowledged this fact.
There had been a remarkable improvement in their game technically under the Portuguese.
Laudrup joined Al Rayyan in October, 2016. The legendary player is no stranger to coaching in Qatar, having guided erstwhile Lekhwiya to a league and cup double in the 2014-15 season.
The well-travelled Dane has managed a host of clubs around the world including stints in Russia, Spain and England. His most successful spell came with Premier League side Swansea City, lifting the league cup during the 2012-13 season. It was the first major English trophy in their history.
The 53-year-old has had much more credentials as a forward having donned the jerseys of Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. He had also represented top Italian side Juventus and Dutch stalwarts Ajax Amsterdam besides playing for the Denmark national team umpteen times.
Under, Laudrup, Al Rayyan have become a more offensive side. They scored 54 goals, the third best in the QNB Stars League after Al Duhail (86) and Al Sadd (68).