Doha : Al Gharafa will look to come back from their defeat against Umm Salal last week, but they will face a mighty challenge in the form of Al Duhail SC, who are still hurting from the defeat to Persepolis.
QNB Stars League defending champions Duhail, coached by Tunisian Nabil Maaloul who replaced Algerian Djamel Belmadi, suffered a heartbreak in the midweek when they conceded three goals in the second half to go down to the Iranians in the Champions League quarterfinal.
It was Duhail’s first defeat in the Champions League and Gharafa will be keen to end their unbeaten run in the league which has now stretched to 31 games.
Duhail, with 10 points, are third in the table, below Sadd only on goal difference. Al Rayyan occupy the top spot with 11 points but both Duhail and Sadd have a match to play.
Gharafa, who finished a fourth last season, have two victories from five games and are placed sixth with seven points.
Coached by Frenchman Christian Gourcuff, who replaced Turk Bulent Uygun at the start of this season, Gharafa will miss their Dutch star Wesley Sneijder who will need around a month to recover from a muscle injury.
They still have a host of top players including Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi, Slovakian attacking midfielder Vladimir Weiss and Brazilian midfielder Diego Amado.
Gourcuff said his side need to avoid the mistakes they made against Umm Salal last week.
“We did not deserve to lose to Umm Salal in the last round in terms of performance. I have tried my best to prepare the team in a better way. We had better avoid the mistakes we committed against Umm Salal.
“We will try to play as we did during our 1-1 draw with Sadd. I had watched Duhail’s AFC Champions League match against Persepolis and they were close to winning it and progressing to the semifinals. So we must be at our best. We will sorely miss the services of Wesley Schneider.”