Al Gharafa vs Al Arabi — Thursday, 30th November, 2017 @ 16:00, Al Gharafa Stadium
For many reasons, Al Gharafa are sure to go all out against Al Arabi when they face off in the highlight match of QNB Stars League Week 8.
Firstly, The Cheetahs will be playing in front of home fans. Then, they had put up a gutsy display against table toppers Al Duhail. It was their best performance in some weeks.
Furthermore, Al Gharafa are lying ninth with only seven points and one victory, so they badly need to collect points.
But then, lack of consistency has been their bane. French coach Jean Fernandez has time and again admitted that. If they overcome that, they can get the better of Al Arabi.
The injury blow to regular captain Vladimir Weiss has been adversely affecting their performances. He took the field only after an hour’s play against Al Duhail. Nevertheless, he scored their second goal in stoppage time.
Their hopes are also being carried by Luis Jimenez, Almahdi Ali, Othman Al Yahri, Diego Amado and Amro Seraj.
Al Arabi, who have a large fan base as well, will be desperate for a win as they are in a precarious position in the standings, staying 10th with six points after being held by promoted Al Markhiya in Week 9.
The Dream Team did not have a great start to the season, winning one game, drawing three and losing five. Change of coach (Croat Luka Bonacic replacing Tunisian Qais Yaakoubi after seven matches) did not help them either. They had lost to Al Rayyan in their first match under the Croat, who had previously trained Al Ahli and Al Shahaniya in Qatar.
Al Arabi have a quality line-up of players, but that has not reflected on their results. Many home-grown players, such as Khalfan Ibrahim and Hamad Ismail, returned to them from various clubs this season and their commitment is well-known. They also have good professional players in Syrian Mardik Mardikian and Diego Jardel.
If the much-travelled and widely-experienced Bonacic succeeds in making them a cohesive unit, Al Arabi will give Al Gharafa a good run for their money.