Al Arabi vs Al Rayyan — Sunday, 19th November, 2017 @ 18:10, Al Arabi Stadium
Al Arabi and Al Rayyan will battle it out in the highlight of QNB Stars League Round 8 fixtures in contrasting backgrounds.
As the tournament resumes after a two-week break, during which international commitments were honoured and two rounds of the QSL Cup were played domestically, Al Rayyan are sure to take the field at the Al Arabi Stadium on Sunday, 19th November, with renewed vigour.
And The Lions have reasons to be. They had displaced Al Sadd from the second position in the table after defeating Qatar SC in Round 7. Both Al Sadd and Al Rayyan had 18 points and same goal difference (nine), but the latter came second having scored more number of goals (19 as against The Wolves’ 17).
That victory was inspired by Rodrigo Tabata, who was his usual self by donning the playmaker’s role fully well. Tabata, Abderrazaq Hamdallah and Sebastian Soria equally share 15 of Al Rayyan’s total goals.
The team has been performing well this season and Danish coach Michael Laudrup has no reasons to be wary of Al Arabi. They have been showing consistency as well.
On the QSL Cup front too, Al Rayyan had reasons to cheer themselves on. They became the first team to qualify for the semifinals with an all-win record following their fourth-round victory over Umm Salal, with Hamdallah netting the all-important goal.
They had registered a big win over Al Markhiya in the third round and Hamdallah had contributed a hat-trick towards it.
Meanwhile, Al Arabi are having an unimpressive run, lying in ninth position with just a win to show for their efforts.
The Dream Team suffered the ignominy of having conceded a last-gasp equaliser against Al Kharaitiyat in the last round, but that gave them a one-place promotion even though they parted ways with Tunisian coach Qais Yaakoubi, who joined them at the start of this season.
Now, there are heavy expectations on Yaakoubi’s replacement Luka Bonacic. Immediately after his appointment, the Croat expressed his delight to be coaching Al Arabi, but he knows fully well that he has an uphill task on hand.
They had conceded a late equaliser against Al Ahli as well in Round 6 and that makes Bonacic to work more on the players’ level of concentration till the last moment.
Many players, who came up through Al Arabi’s age-group system such as Khalfan Ibrahim and Hamad Ismail, had come back to their fold from various teams this season. They have been showing high team spirit, but their performances never matched their results.
If Bonacic succeeds in those aspects, he can make a turnaround in their fortunes.
The fan factor also adds to the excitement of the encounter between Al Rayyan and Al Arabi, two teams with solid base of supporters in Qatar football.
Once again, it will be a big battle on and off the field. Both sides will be cheered on by die-hard fans. Al Arabi, with Syrian import Mardik Mardikian leading the charge, are capable of giving Al Rayyan a good run for their money.