In any conversation about Qatari football it is never long before the name Al Sadd crops up. The Doha powerhouses are one of the country’s oldest clubs and have been a dominant force for many years now, winning more league championships than any other side in the land.

Birth of an institution
The club owes its existence to a group of Doha students who liked nothing better than to meet up and play football. Accustomed to beating all-comers and reluctant to join an existing team, they decided to found their own, seeking permission first of all from Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Jabr Al-Thani. Their wish granted, Al Sadd duly came into being on 21 October 1969, with the team adopting a black and white strip.

The makings of a legend
It was not long before the newly created outfit began to impose themselves on the domestic scene. Their maiden Qatari championship success in the 1970/71 season was the first in a very long list of trophies that would come Al Sadd’s way. To date they have won no fewer than 12 Qatari league titles, 12 Sheikh Jassim Cups, five Qatar Crown Prince Cups and 13 Emir of Qatar Cups.

Not content with reigning supreme at home, the Doha giants have also flexed their muscles in the Gulf region and Asia, winning the AFC Asian Club Championship, the forerunner of the AFC Champions League, in 1989. Two years later they made off with the Gulf Clubs Champions Cup, followed by the Arab Champions League in 2001.

Al Sadd’s success has been founded on a high-profile recruitment policy. Among the international stars to have played for the club are Brazilian striker Romario, French defender Frank Lebœuf, Ghanaian legend Abedi Pele, Argentina’s Mauro Zarate, the Iranian duo of Karim Bagheri and Ali Daei, Nigeria international John Utaka and Ecuadorian forward Carlos Tenorio.

Coached by the experienced Romanian Cosmin Olaroiu, the current side boasts plenty of talent itself. Lining up alongside the Brazilian trio of Felipe Jorge, Leandro and Afonso Alves are Qatari star Khalfan Ibrahim, the 2006 Asian Footballer of the Year, midfielder Talal Al-Bloushi and the naturalised Senegalese defender Abdulla Koni.

Al Sadd have monopolised domestic silverware to such an extent that they are popularly known as The Boss, although the fans and the local press have a collection of other soubriquets for the team, among them The White Citadel, The White Lion or The Sons of the Wolf.

Golden years
Even by their lofty standards, Al Sadd have been particularly successful in recent seasons, collecting eight trophies in the last five years. Of them all the most productive was undoubtedly 2007, when they won the league, the Sheikh Jassim Cup, the Crown Prince Cup, and the Emir of Qatar Cup, a stunning quadruple.

The presidents
The Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar, Abdallah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, is regarded as the club’s spiritual father and has been its longest-serving and most successful president, his period in charge coinciding with their Asian Club Championship victory and many other triumphs. Other notable figures to have held the post include: Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Jabr Al-Thani; Sheikh Abdallah bin Jasem bin Fahd Al-Thani; Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Crown Prince; Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Jabr Al-Thani; and Sheikh Mohamed bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the current incumbent.

The stadium
Resembling a citadel from the outside, the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium provides a venue that is worthy of the institution. Refurbished on several occasions, it currently holds 15,000 spectators and has a VIP area and the kind of facilities you would expect to find in a state-of-the-art TV studio. To combat the suffocating heat, the stadium has also been fitted with a pioneering air-conditioning system.