Doha: When Al Gharafa recruited Wesley Sneijder and Mehdi Taremi in January, they were not planning to have a go at the QNB Stars League title for the likes of Al Duhail SC and Al Sadd were out of sight by then.
The AFC Champions League was what they had in mind but that hopes came crashing last week when they went down to UAE side Al Jazira 2-3.
That was a cruel blow, but Gharafa can’t lose too much sleep over that for another massive challenge awaits them in the QNB Stars League.
They need to beat Qatar Sports Club in their final match to maintain fourth place which would give them a chance to play in the AFC Champions League next season. If they finish fourth the season would be termed as a disaster and coach Bulent Uygun knows that.
“We have to forget about the recent match against Al Jazira and focus on the Qatar SC game on Sunday. I have huge confidence in my players and we hope to finish the league in the fourth position,” said Uygun. “I expect my players to be in top form against Qatar SC and also expect them to be in good shape. We have great respect for the good results Qatar SC have made under Qatari coach Abdullah Mubarak.”
It could have been much worse for Gharafa had Umm Salal beaten Al Rayyan in the last round.
Umm Salal, who are level on 32 points with Gharafa, were leading until the 94th minute of the match when Abderrazaq Hamdallah equalised for Rayyan to give the Cheetahs a lifeline.
Now that they have got a second chance Gharafa would be keen to make it count.
“The game against Qatar SC is very crucial and all our players are fully focused to ensure their place among the top four. We must forget the defeat to Al Jazira and concentrate on this match,” said midfielder Assim Madibo.