8/24/2016 5:30:47 AM

NEW CHALLENGE

NEW CHALLENGE

Former Barcelona and AS Roma midfielder Seydou Keita, who has entered into a six-month agreement with Qatar Stars League runners-up El Jaish, aims to help them reach the AFC Champions League final.

MALIAN midfielder Seydou Keita said his former Barcelona team-mate and current Al Sadd playmaker Xavi Hernandez encouraged him to join El Jaish from Italian side AS Roma.

“Xavi advised me to accept the offer. He talked about Qatar’s love for football and excellent stadiums. I’m looking forward to the new season,” Keita, who signed a six-month deal, told Doha Stadium Plus. “I’ll be happy to assist my team-mates. My target will be to help Jaish reach the AFC Champions League final.”

Jaish will face the UAE’s Al Nassr in the first-leg quarterfinal of the continental competition at home on Wednesday.

A versatile player, Keita can play as a central or defensive midfielder.

“Keita is a huge addition and was targeted by the club for some time. His experience will boost our chances in the Champions League and Qatar Stars League,” said former Qatar international midfielder Wesam Rizik, who was recently appointed as the club’s football head.

Jaish wanted to sign an experienced player after Moroccan international Abderrazak Hamdallah, last season’s joint top-scorer, was injured in pre-season training.

“I had been in touch with coach Sabri (Lamouchi) at least for two years, but nothing concrete had happened then. I’m happy to have joined the side. I’m looking forward to the first game,”
said Keita, who played four seasons with Barcelona.

“Sabri had briefed me on the current situation. I’ve played in Asia, but this’ll be my first time playing in Qatar,” he added.

Jaish also signed Al Sadd’s Hamza Sanhaji, Al Kharaitiyat’s Mohammed Abdulrab and Lekhwiya defender Dame Traore on loan.

“Jaish are one of the top sides. Moving from Sadd is a big challenge, but I’m confident of doing well,” said Sanhaji.

Traore, one of the top defenders in the league, said, “Jaish are a strong side. They’ll do well in the league and other tournaments.”

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