The Qatari Giants, Al-Rayyan SC were a big force in every edition of the Asian Tournament, having won Qatar’s top-flight trophy eight times. Al-Rayyan SC qualified for the AFC Champions League 2021 after finishing second in the league in 2019-20.
Al Rayyan’s history goes back to the mid-sixties. The club was officially founded in the year 1967 with the announcement by the Al Rayyan Sports Committee that it would merge with Al Nusoor, a local sports club in Qatar. Within the first decade of its formation, the club went onto bask the glory by winning Qatar’s league in 1976. Thereupon, the Lions were superbly consistent in the following editions of Qatar’s Premier League.
In 1983, under the leadership of Mohammed Bin Hammam Al Abdulla, a new club headquarters and home stadium were constructed in Doha. The side eventually climbed onto win the league with a negative goal difference in 1983–84, making them the only team from Qatar to achieve this phenomenal feat. The club has not experienced much league success in the later years. Following the long years of title drought, Al Rayyan lifted the league shield in the 2015-16 season, which was their first title in 21 years.
Al-Rayyan SC is a regular competitor in the recent editions of the AFC champions league. But out of no luck, their records in the AFC Champions League are less impressive though. The Qatari Giants have made it nine times to the ACL, but are yet to ease past the group stage. Their last appearance came in the 2019 edition of the league competition.
Coached by Laurent Blanc, the Qatari Giants looks upbeat ahead of the ACL 2021 edition. The 1998 FIFA World Cup winner took over the reins of Al-Rayyan in December 2020. The world cup winning center-back has featured in big clubs like Manchester United, Barcelona, and Inter Milan in his past times. As a head coach, the 55-year-old veteran has won the Ligue 1 trophy four times, thrice with Paris Saint Germain and once with Bordeaux. He was also the head coach of the French national team in the 2012 Euro Cup. Under Blanc’s tutelage, the Al-Rayyan SC side is currently placed at third with 10 wins, 4 draws, and 7 losses in the 2020-21 QSL Tournament.
Key Players to watch out for :
1. Yacine Brahimi (Winger)
The Algerian winger, Yacine Brahimi is one of the hot prospects to watch out in the ACL 2021 tournament. The 31-year-old winger has had a distinguished career, playing for top-flight clubs across the European Continent. Yacine Brahimi was a regular starter for the Portuguese Club FC Porto, representing the club in UEFA Champions League in the year 2016. His first-ever stint at Al-Rayyan saw him winning the golden boot in QSL 2019 edition. Without a shred of a doubt, Yacine Brahami will stout a strong threat to the opponents in the ACL 2021.
Yohan Boli played an instrumental role in Al-Rayyan’s attack this season. The Ivory Coast international was used in multiple positions on the pitch by Laurent Blanc. Under Laurent’s tutelage, the Ivorian has 11 goals and three assists to his name. His goal-scoring abilities and play-making skills are reward-worthy. Yohan displayed his versatility on the field by taking up the mantle of playing as a winger, playmaker, and even as a primary striker for his side.
3. Abdulaziz Hatem :
Abdulaziz Hatem is another player who is likely to be influential for the Al-Rayyan side in the ACL 2021 Tournament. The midfield maestro from Qatar is an integral part of Laurent’s team set up and proved his mettle by scoring 6 goals and 3 assists in the 2020-21 edition of Qatar Super League. Of late, the 31-year-old central midfielder’s performances have caught everyone’s praises, and are expected to play a pivotal role for his side in the ACL 2021 tournament.