Al Sadd coach Jorge Fossati said his unfashionable side had boosted football in Qatar — hosts of the 2022 World Cup — after their glorious run was abruptly ended by the mighty Barcelona.
The Doha minnows claimed an unlikely Asian crown in November to secure a place at the Club World Cup in Japan, where they defeated Africa’s finest Esperance before being outclassed 4-0 Thursday by the European champions.
But the Uruguayan Fossati said there was no disgrace in losing to what is seen as one of the best club sides of all time, who could afford the luxury of leaving out several key players including Xavi and Cesc Fabregas.
“I feel very happy now, and also my team and players, especially the local players,” said Fossati. “It was a very good experience, so the Qatari players will be able to make the most of this experience and develop further.
“Before the match I said this: we know there is a gap between the two sides, but we want to close that gap.
“Nobody wants to lose, and nobody wants to lose 4-0, but if you are playing Barcelona, maybe you cannot avoid this kind of result.
“For the local Qatari players this was a very good experience and very good for the development of the football in Qatar.”
Al Sadd captain Abdullah Koni admitted there was “a big gap from Barcelona”, but added: “We were really learning something from them.
“It was a big experience. All the teams in the world want to play Barcelona. We made some mistakes of course, but there is no game without mistakes. That’s life in football.”
Fossati, who was left to rue a defensive howler that allowed Barcelona to take the lead, now has Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol in his sights as they play-off for third place Sunday for the unofficial title of Asia’s best team.
Usually a match that does not generate a huge amount of interest, Fossati encapsulated the mood of fans and media from both countries when he said his men would be going all-out to capture third place.
“I don’t know how the Japanese fans are thinking, but we want to get this third place. We will give 100 percent and there is a strong possibility we can get third,” the former Uruguay and Qatar coach said.
“My players are humble people, very modest. They are very calm and clear about what they want to do. I don’t believe the Barcelona result will have any impact on the game for third place, and I can say that with confidence.”