QNB Stars League — Round 7 Thursday Preview


Al Sadd know very well that they cannot afford to have slip-ups, especially against bottom-half teams, when they travel to Al Ahli for their Round 7 match in the QNB Stars League.

The 13-time league champions, the most titles by any side in Qatar, would rather forget their ‘Qatar Clasico’ loss to Al Rayyan last week and should be going all out against Al Ahli.

Al Sadd were still second in the table with 15 points, one less than Al Duhail. Though Al Rayyan too had 15 points, they were pushed to third on goal difference.

The Wolves have the wherewithal to beat any side in Qatar, with the likes of Spanish great Xavi Hernandez orchestrating their midfield and Algerians Baghdad Bounedjah and Jugurtha Hamroun as well as Qatar international Hassan Al Haidous leading their attack.

However, Hamroun, who was fielded only in the 57th minute against Al Rayyan, has been off-colour and Xavi and Al Haidous could not do much in the second half. The  injury to Boualem Khoukhi has added to their woes.

Baghdad, who missed Al Sadd’s first three league matches, seems to have fully recovered from his injury and has found his touch. He had netted their only goal against Al Rayyan as well, but he needs support to continue his scoring run.

The defeat to Al Rayyan, their first this season, exposed some weaknesses among the Al Sadd ranks and Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira would hope the team soon becomes a well-oiled machine.

Al Ahli, meanwhile, are in a confident mood after holding Al Arabi by twice coming from behind. They were slow off the blocks, but came up with a spirited performance in the second half, which saw them score two goals.

They matched Al Arabi ball for ball and the win helped them move up in the standings by one position, to eighth. The good form of seasoned left-back Meshaal Mubarak, who also scored in the last round, Under-23 player Farid Ibrahim, the other scorer, and spearhead Mishaal Abdullah should add to Spanish coach Joaquin Capaross’ confidence.