Gabi hopes Xavi partnership will lead Al Sadd to ACL crown

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi is hopeful that his prospective partnership with Spanish compatriot Xavi will drive Qatari giants Al Sadd to the AFC Champions League title.

Gabi, who spent a decade at Atletico over two spells, recently ended his time with Los Rojiblancos on a high back in May, scoring in their 3-0 win over Marseille as they were crowned Europa League champions.

The 34-year-old has since decided to make Asia the next port of call in his career, signing a two-year contract with Al Sadd on Monday.

The move will see him play alongside one of Spain’s all-time greats in Xavi, who has been at the club since 2015 and was the one who instigated the move.

“Xavi was the first person to talk to me about coming to Qatar and Al Sadd,” revealed Gabi, according to the Asian Football Confederation’s official website.

“He told me a lot about the project at Al Sadd and that we would make a great duo in it.

“We will now work together to ensure that more success comes to the club, by winning titles.”

Formerly foes… now partners.

And Gabi hopes one of those titles is the 2018 AFC Champions League, with Al Sadd set to resume their campaign on August 27 with the first leg of their quarter-final against Iran’s Esteghlal.

“My aim with Al Sadd will be to compete for and win all the titles, with the AFC Champions League being our first stop,” he added.

“I am very happy to be here in Qatar and to play for Al Sadd.

“I will work hard to implement the European mentality in Qatari football, helping Qatari players to improve during my time here.”

Improvement is certainly very much on the agenda for a country set to host the new FIFA World Cup in four years’ time.

Although Gabi is only starting his adventure in the Arabian Peninsula, he has seen enough to be confident that Qatar 2022 will be a success.

“I have seen the sights of Doha and I also observed the preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including the great facilities at the Khalifa International Stadium,” said the Madrid native.

“I am convinced that Qatar will host a successful World Cup in 2022.”