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Al Duhail vs Al Rayyan — Saturday, 27th January, 2018 @ 18:40, Al Duhail Stadium


Al Duhail vs Al Rayyan — Saturday, 27th January, 2018 @ 18:40, Al Duhail Stadium

QNB Stars League Week 14

The encounter between Al Duhail and Al Rayyan highlights the QNB Stars League’s Week 14 fixtures. The kick-off is at 18:40 at the Al Duhail Stadium.

Al Duhail are in outstanding form right from the start of this season and top the standings with 35 points, while Al Rayyan have not been found wanting and are placed third. The Lions are on 31 points, the same as Al Sadd but behind on goal difference (+15 as against Al Sadd’s +21).

Al Duhail have the best goal difference (+31) among all teams. The Red Knights have the tournament’s top two scorers in Youssef El Arabi (19 goals) and Youssef Msakni (11), whereas Al Rayyan have the next two best scorers — Rodrigo Tabata (10) and Abderrazaq Hamdallah (nine).

Al Duhail playmaker Nam Tae-Hee and Al Rayyan striker Sebastian Soria are also there in the list with seven goals each.

Both Al Duhail and Al Rayyan are coming off victories, against Al Arabi (1-0) and Al Kharaitiyat (4-2) respectively.

For a change, Al Duhail’s big guns failed to fire and coach Djamel Belmadi attributed it to players’ fatigue as they have also been preparing for the AFC Champions League games.

“Our performance wasn’t at the top level as a number of players weren’t in their usual self. We had been preparing intensely in view of our AFC Champions League engagements and fatigue was a problem. However, we could score a goal and win the game. The performance could’ve been better, but I’m satisfied with the result,” said Belmadi.

Al Duhail will be eager to maintain their unbeaten run and take a giant leap forward in their pursuit of title, while Al Rayyan would look to leapfrog Al Sadd and cut the gap with the leaders.

All these factors will make it a keen contest and a treat for the fans. Obviously, a lot is at stake for the sides. Al Duhail had won 5-3 in the first phase.

Coaches Belmadi (Al Duhail) and Michael Laudrup (Al Rayyan) are astute tacticians, and it has to be seen who will have the last laugh this time.

This is Al Duhail’s debut campaign in the QNB Stars League after the team was formed by merging Lekhwiya, who won the league shield last season, with El Jaish. Al Rayyan last triumphed in the tournament in the 2015-16 season.