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Coaching Al Sadd is a big honour, says Xavi

Al Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez described the opportunity to manage the club as “huge” and has expressed his gratitude at being given the job.

Speaking exclusively to the club website during the pre-season camp in Spain, Xavi said: “I am very grateful to the president of the club, the management and the players for their trust in me. It is true that this is the first coaching job for me but it is a superb feeling, because I know all the players. Also, the staff who are with me have a lot of experience on the pitch in many countries, and therefore will be of great help to me.”

He added: “I think it’s an added advantage that I know the players, the club and the country. I will start applying my ideas. Everyone knows that I love attacking football and to keep possession of the ball; doing that from the start will be a great feeling.”

“Everything is excellent here at the camp, in my country and in Catalonia specifically.”

As for his talk with the players, Xavi said: “My first discussion with the players was very interesting and fruitful. I made it clear to them on the first day, that I am very happy to be with them and grateful for the opportunity that I have got. I started by explaining to them the way I want to play and the ideas that I will implement on the pitch. I also told them that we are here to create happiness together, to enjoy and to win.”

The Al Sadd coach also said: “Throughout my sporting career as a player, I have been used to winning and now I want to keep winning as a coach. I told them that I am here to help them as individuals and also as players. Our duty as a group is to win and enjoy on and off the pitch. It is a big honour that I get to be the coach of this great group of players, because I know that they have great respect and character and they will do all that I ask of them on the pitch.”

With regards to the preseason camp, Xavi remarked: “My priority is privacy. Many people in this area know me well but I chose to be alone with the players and the team. The facilities here are excellent and the hotel is great. As I said before, I am speaking about privacy; the players are comfortable and at ease. It is needed because we are at that point in time, where I have to explain to them our way of playing for the new season.”

He added: “Everyone expects a lot from me and I am used to it, playing under pressure. I played for many years at Barcelona under this kind of pressure; it’s a normal thing for me. This is the life that I am used to; having to compete. If I had not lived this kind of life, I would have been missing something important. I am very happy, here at Al Sadd; we are the best in Qatar and we are here to win. We may play under pressure but we are the best team.”

Asked about Al Sadd’s upcoming matches in the AFC Champions League and the Super Cup, Xavi spoke about the fact that his first three games as a coach will be against Al Duhail. “Al Duhail are one of the best teams, not just in Doha, but in the Middle East. We know them well and my last game against them was in the Amir Cup final. In football, there are always opportunities to make amends and we now have a big challenge ahead of us, in the AFC Champions League and in the Super Cup. We will be ready to compete. We don’t know what will happen but we will compete.”

As for the upcoming African Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Algeria, which will feature Al Sadd striker Baghdad Bounedjah, he said: “I am impressed by Baghdad as a player and a person. I hope he wins. He is one of the best strikers in the Middle East. I hope he makes the difference in the final for his country. I wish him all the best, hoping he wins the title and returns to us in top condition.”

Finally, Xavi had some words to say for Al Sadd’s fans. “With regards to the Al Sadd fans, I want to promise them that we will give our best. I cannot promise results but we will compete for all the titles and give our best, because we are the best team in Qatar.”

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