Al Gharafa vs Umm Salal — QSL Cup first semifinal
Al Gharafa and Umm Salal reached the QSL Cup semifinals in contrasting style. While The Cheetahs reached the last four with one round of matches to spare, Umm Salal made the cut after big struggle.
The Orange Fortress and Al Ahli were tied on eight points in a race for the second semifinal berth from Group B that went down to the wire. Umm Salal defeated Al Markhiya 3-0 and Al Ahli put it across Al Sadd 3-2.
And Umm Salal progressed by virtue of having better goal difference (+3 as against Al Ahli’s 0).
On the other hand, Al Gharafa did not have any hiccups in the fifth and last round of group matches when they prevailed over Al Sailiya 4-0 to finish the engagements on 13 points.
Al Gharafa registered four victories and one draw, while Umm Salal had only two wins. They had drawn as many times and lost one game.
It is against this backdrop that Al Gharafa face Umm Salal in the first semifinal on Saturday, 16th December, at the Al Wakrah Stadium (16:00).
The winners will meet Al Rayyan or Al Kharaitiyat who will face each other in the second semifinal at the Al Shamal Stadium (18:30) the same day.
Both teams have players who can deliver the goods. They are almost at the same level in the QNB Stars League, which has taken winter break after the end of first phase comprising 11 weeks of action.
Umm Salal are fifth with 16 points and Al Gharafa lie seventh on 11. Umm Salal have recorded double (four) the number of victories than their rivals. In fact, they had occupied the fourth place for a long before being displaced by Al Sailiya.
It will also be a tactical battle between Al Gharafa’s French coach Jean Fernandez and his Umm Salal counterpart Mahmoud Jaber from Egypt.
Both are known tacticians and this sub-plot is sure to spice up the contest, which will be decided in tie-breaker if extra time of 15 minutes each and regulation time end in stalemate.