Match of the Week-Al Gharafa Vs Al Ahli
After a long summer break the QNB Stars League returns on Friday evening with the opening match between Al Gharafa and Al Ahli. Both sides head into the tie with new head coaches and a raft of changes in their professional and local ranks. Both sides will be eager to lay down a marker for the season and will be hoping that they can step after their gruelling preseason schedules.
Home side Al Gharafa wasted no time in the summer to pick up former Al Khor boss Jean Fernandez to lead the Cheetahs for the new campaign. The vastly experienced French coach was seen as the perfect candidate to mould this young side into top four contenders, and Fernandez will be hoping his young squad can hit the ground running.
On the transfer front and Gharafa strengthened significantly with local talent. Perhaps the most eye-catching accusation is Qatar U23 striker Ahmed Alaadeen who has been signed from Al Rayyan. The youngster has plenty of potential and if he is given some time could turn into a key player for the side. In terms of international players the Cheetahs again have had an overhaul, with Chilean midfielder Luis Jiménez joining from Al Arabi. The veteran midfielder will be crucial in the center of midfield if Gharafa are to defeat Al Ahli.
As for Al Ahli, they have also opted for a European coach in the form of Spanish tactician Joaquín Caparrós who will be managing in the GCC for the first time. Caparrós has coached a number of teams in his homeland and will be targeting a maiden victory in the QNB Stars league.
Domestically Magid Mohammed is the most interesting purchase for the Brigadiers. The attacker spent most of last season on the sidelines with a knee injury, he will be expected to link up with veteran striker Meshal Abdullah to provide Ahli’s firepower. Ahli have also refreshed their professional ranks and South Korean midfielder Kim Gwi-hyeon is an interesting addition to the midfield. His energy and passing will be needed to set the tone for Ahli this season.
It certainly promises to be a fascinating match when Al Gharafa take on Al Ahli in the opening game of the 2017/2018 QNB Stars League season.