DOHA: Not having won the Qatar Stars League after 2012-13 still hurts Al Sadd and their fans, who always look forward to every new season with a ray of hope.
But ever since the club won the league shield under Moroccan Hussain Amouta six seasons ago, ill-luck and a bit of inconsistency had laid them low in the league.
Last season had been a pretty successful one, with Sadd wrapping up all the trophies on offer barring the QSL.
This time too, Sadd coach Jesualdo Fereira, who replaced Amouta in 2015-16, will have to work a bit harder than the previous years.
In fact, he need to find out what best suits the team in the league and how to stop Al Duhail, Al Rayyan and Al Gharafa from overtaking them in the battle for supremacy.
Sadd, who finished second in the last two editions, open their campaign against Al Kharaitiyat at the Khalifa International Stadium on August 5.
Currently, the team is training in Austria where the Portuguese will have a chance to re-assess his boys in the friendlies that they will play before pushing them for the league.
Fereira must also ensure to keep them injury free in the season that would demand excellent physical fitness.
“I hope the team will be free of injuries,” Fereira said on the club’s website.
The 2011 AFC Champions League winner has signed some proven performers like former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez and South Korean international Jung Woo-Young in the summer window transfer.
It remains to be seen how much the duo can adjust to the trying conditions of heat and humidity when the tournament finally kicks off next early next month.
The 28-year-old Korean, who appeared at the World Cup in Russia, agreed for a three-year deal at the club while Fernandez signed a two-year contract.
There is optimism and a good feeling, but Sadd will have to translate those plus factors into success.
Captain Xavi Hernandez, who will be playing in his third season, will also be hoping to win the shield. But to achieve that goal they will have to maintain a level of consistency.
It’s difficult in a long-drawn tournament like QSL, but not quite impossible.