Fifth placed Al Gharafa is the next side under the spotlight as we look at the progress of the teams in the QSL during the international break. The Cheetahs had a shaky start to the league after losing their first two games, however they found their mojo and went on an eight-match undefeated streak with six wins and two draws.
After the streak ended against Al Sailiya in December, Al Gharafa struggled to keep the consistency in results as they struggled to get points against lower ranked opposition. The Cheetahs could only register five wins in 13 matches starting from round 11. The former QSL champions are currently ranked fifth in the table with thirty-seven points from twenty-three games.
Portuguese tactician Pedro Caixinha, who joined Al Gharafa last season, had a tremendous impact on the team as he improved their position in the table and introduced a fiercer more entertaining style of play by bringing in younger players into the side. Now, Caixinha, after agreeing with club management, has taken the helm over at Rangers in the Scottish League. Tunisian tactician Habib Sadeq replaces Caixinha as the Al Gharafa head coach for the remaining three rounds of the league.
In the beginning of the season Al Gharafa signed South Korean midfielder Kooky Han from Qatar Sports Club and Ghanaian defender Rashid Soumaïla. Caixinha also brought in a big number of young players into the squad including Othman Alawi, Abdulghani Munir, Abdul Rahman Fayez Al- Rashidi, and goalkeeper Yusuf Hassan. These players added strength within the team as they worked alongside experienced players like Fahad Al Shammari, Lawrence Quaye, and Abdulaziz Hatem.
Gharafa up till round 23 has won 11 games, lost 8 times and tied in 4. The strong attacking line led by Viladimir Weiss and Kristin Nemeth managed to score 40 goals and overall the team conceded 38 goals. Being in fifth position and eight points behind fourth placed El Jaish, It seems highly unlikely that Al Gharafa can finish in the top four with three games left to go.
The team will be required to win just one game amongst the remaining three to keep their position in fifth place which is an achievement compared to the results of the team in recent seasons. The next confrontation in round 24 will be against Umm Salal, who are in sixth place with 30 points, followed by a tough game against fourth placed El Jaish and in the last round Al Gharafa will face Al Kharaitiyat, who are in tenth.
Consistency will be key for Al Gharafa in the final three games of the season as the Cheetah’s will be looking to end the season on a high. With Pedro Caixinha leaving the club, Habib Sadeq has a responsibility to ensure that Al Gharafa get maximum points from the remaining three games.