Al Sadd held on Xavi’s coaching bow

Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez runs towards his family after their Spanish first division soccer match against Deportivo de la Coruna at Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain. (Reuters Pic)

HONG KONG: Xavi Hernandez saw his Al Sadd side held to a 1-1 draw by fellow Qataris Al Duhail as the former Barcelona and Spain midfielder made his competitive coaching debut in the Asian Champions League late on Tuesday.

The World Cup-winning midfielder was appointed head coach of the Doha-based club in June after spending the last four seasons of his playing career with the Qatari club.

The 39-year-old, who won the European edition of the tournament four times with Barcelona, saw Qatar international Akram Afif give his side the lead on the half-hour mark of the first leg, only for Yousef Msakni to level the scoreline just before halftime.

The teams meet again next week, with the winners taking on either Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr or Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates, who drew 1-1 on Monday.

In the West Region’s other games, Bafetimbi Gomis hit a hat-trick in Jeddah as Al Hilal took command of an all-Saudi Arabian clash against Al Ahli with a 4-2 first leg win.

The winner of the tie could face another Saudi club in the quarter-finals after two-time champions Al Ittihad earned a 2-1 first leg win over Iran’s Zob Ahan.

Ghasem Haddadifar had put the Iranians in front inside the opening 10 minutes but new signing Luis Jimenez and defender Ziyad Al Sahafi sealed the win forAl Ittihad.

“It is our first competitive match of the season,” Al Ittihad coach Jose Luis Sierra said after Monday’s match.

“So, overall, I’m satisfied with our performance and I can only expect the team to get better with every passing game.”