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Reigning champions Al Duhail to take on Muaither SC in Amir Cup last 16

Doha, Qatar: Amir Cup champions Al Duhail will start their title defence against second division side Muaither SC on Thursday.

The match at their home ground will be a good opportunity for Duhail’s new coach Walid Regragui to steady the ship.

After losing 0-4 to Al Sadd in the Qatar Cup final which resulted in coach Rui Faria parting ways with the club, Duhail also suffered defeat in Regragui’s first match in charge, against Al Rayyan.

The defeat cut their lead at the top of the Qatar Stars League table to just two points and Regragui can’t allow any more slip-ups.

Meanwhile Sadd, who is expected to hand Duhail a tough challenge in the title run-in, start their campaign against another second division side Al Kharaitiyat.

 “The game against Al Kharaitiyat will not be easy. They have good players, with many of them having played in the first division. We must maintain this same performance in order to win and reach the quarterfinals,” said assistant coach David Prats at the pre-match press-conference.

“Xavi was unable to be here, as the first team has morning training in preparation for the match,” said Prats.

As for the defeat to Duhail in the final last edition, Prats said: “We lost the previous final against Al Duhail but this is a new tournament. We are excited to play and win in a competitive atmosphere and if we maintain our level, I think we will be able to reach the final.”

Al Rayyan,  who roared back into form against Duhail after a couple of dismal performances,  also have weak opponents in Al Mesaimeer.

Al Sailiya, who lost to Sadd in the league last week, will take on Umm Salal in the first pre-quarterfinal on Wednesday.

In Friday’s matches, Al Shahania play Al Wakrah and Al Ahli meet Qatar SC while on Saturday Al Arabi will meet Al Khor before Al Gharafa take on Al Markhiya.

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