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  • Al Duhail won the Qatar Stars League last season
  • The Red Knights are set to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™
  • Manager Sabri Lamouchi talks about his side’s goals for the tournament

Qatar Stars League champions Al Duhail are set to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™ where they will rub shoulders with continental champions from all around the planet.

The Red Knights experienced a dip in results and performance this season, prompting the club’s management to appoint Sabri Lamouchi as head coach back in October. The Frenchman of Tunisian decent has been working hard to get the club back on track since then.

FIFA.com spoke with Lamouchi, who expressed his excitement about the forthcoming global showpiece. “It’s a great opportunity, even if I wasn’t at the helm of the team that won the league title,” he said. “Credit goes to the coach who was here before me. The tournament will give my players a chance to showcase their skills at a higher level.”

Realistic goals

Lamouchi sounded a cautious note, clearly in an attempt not to give the fans false hope. “I’m here because the team had some issues last year and the club’s management wanted to introduce some changes,” he said. “Our goal is to be more competitive and be the best representative of Qatar and the Qatari league.”

“We must be realistic about our goals and acknowledge the fact that we are taking part in this tournament because Qatar is the host country and that we won the league last year,” he said. “Winning the title isn’t my aim. We’ll be taking things one game at a time. We’re lucky to be playing at this level. It is a big challenge and we mustn’t be overly optimistic.”

All eyes on the opener

In their opening match, Al Duhail take on Auckland City, the club making a record-breaking ninth appearance at the tournament. “We’ll see how it goes,” said Lamouchi. “I arrived here two months ago when we were having some problems. I’m not a magician and I don’t want to delude our fans. I can only promise that my technical team and I will do our best – but it won’t be easy.”

“We haven’t recruited any new players, foreign or local, and we only have two foreign players despite the fact that our squad can have up to seven,” he said. “We have seven games in January and will make use of them to prepare for the tournament. Our preparation begins by winning our league matches and getting more organised in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises in our opener against Auckland City.”

On familiar territory

Having first played in Qatar 15 years ago, Lamouchi is no stranger to the country. When asked his opinion of the nation that will play host to several massive football tournaments, most notably the FIFA Club World Cup and the FIFA World Cup™, he said: “I came to Qatar as a player in 2006, then as a coach in 2015 and now I’m back. The country has changed a lot in terms of facilities, the infrastructure, the roads and the airport.”

“Other things have improved such as the stadiums that are being built,” he said. “Clubs are now more professional, and the league has become more competitive. Moreover, Qatar have recently won the AFC Asian Cup.”

“I’m very excited that the World Cup is coming to Qatar,” he added. “No one thought the World Cup would be organised here one day but preparations are on the right track. Transportation is much better than it was 15 years ago, and life in Qatar has become more comfortable.”

“The country is developing fast, so I look forward to seeing the World Cup being held for the first time in a Muslim country and in the Middle East. I believe it’ll be a great success.”

FIFA tournaments bringing hope

After several cancellations last year due to Covid-19, FIFA tournaments are scheduled to resume this year, beginning with the FIFA Club World Cup. “It’s a positive sign that the FIFA competitions will be back, beginning with the Club World Cup,” said Lamouchi. “2020 was a difficult year for everyone, not only in football. When competitions like these resume, we are tempted to think the worst is over, but we have to remain wary of the virus.”

Asked about that difficult year and his ambitions for 2021, Lamouchi said: “I wish everyone good health. After a year like 2020, we wonder when life will return back to normal and when we’ll be able to travel and take care of our families. Besides my personal goals, that is my wish for the new year.”

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Canelo Alvarez next fight: Mexican superstar expected to face Avni Yildirim at super middleweight in February

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Canelo Alvarez is ready for his next challenge. The unified super middleweight champion is expected to take on Avni Yildirim — the WBC mandatory challenger — on Feb. 27, Canelo’s trainer and manager, Eddy Reynoso, told Boxing Scene. According to both The Athletic and Sports Illustrated, the fight is expected to take place at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. 

Alvarez claimed the WBA and vacant WBC super middleweight titles on Dec. 19 with a decision win over Callum Smith in Texas. The pound-for-pound great had been out of action for nearly a year due to the pandemic as well as contractual disputes with Golden Boy Promotions and streaming partner DAZN. Alvarez reached a deal with both in the fall to become a free agent and open up the possibility of fighting whomever he wants. 

Sports Illustrated’s report notes that this is the first matchup in a multi-fight deal between Alvarez and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, who promoted Alvarez’s recent win over Smith. Under this agreement, the expectation is that Alvarez would face Billy Joe Saunders at 168 pounds in May. 

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news.

Yildirim, the 29-year-old from Turkey, has only lost twice as a pro. That includes his most recent bout against Anthony Dirrell in February 2019 when an accident headbutt in the 10th round ended the fight and sent it to the judges’ scorecards. Yilidirim lost on points. His only other loss came in his only other bout against higher-level competition when he was knocked out by Chris Eubank Jr. in 2017.



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England in Sri Lanka 2021

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Joe Root is backing his young openers to come through the tough initiation of a maiden Test tour of Asia stronger for the experience.

Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley both failed to reach double figures in either innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle and both fell to spin, the same spinner in fact, each time.

Sibley got a faint edge to a ball from left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya which drifted in and spun away slightly for a slips catch while on 4 in the first innings before Crawley chipped to mid-off for 9. On 2 in the second innings, Sibley appeared stunned by Embuldeniya’s arm ball which took the top of off stump, and Crawley fell for 8 to an ill-conceived drive taken at gully.

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Colin Cowherd: It’s time for Colts to trade up in draft and find their franchise quarterback | UNDISPUTED

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Colin Cowherd: It’s time for Colts to trade up in draft and find their franchise quarterback | UNDISPUTED | FOX Sports

Colin Cowherd discusses why it’s time for the Indianapolis Colts to go big in this year’s draft to find their franchise quarterback after Philip Rivers’ decision to retire. Hear why Colin believes the Colts should potentially trade up for the Miami Dolphins #3 overall pick after their announcement to stick with Tua Tagovailoa.

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