QNB Stars League — Week 13 Preview
The QNB Stars League is into its second round in the crucial and final phase. The Week 13 fixtures are Al Ahli vs Al Khor (Al Ahli Stadium, 18:35) on Thursday, Al Arabi vs Al Duhail (Al Arabi Stadium, 16:25), Al Markhiya vs Qatar SC (Al Arabi Stadium, 18:35) on Friday, Al Sadd vs Al Sailiya (Al Sadd Stadium, 16:25), Al Rayyan vs Al Kharaitiyat (Al Sadd Stadium, 18:35) and Umm Salal vs Al Gharafa (Al Gharafa Stadium, 18:35) on Saturday.
Al Duhail are in no mood to show any let-up in their quest for the title as they proved en route to sending Qatar SC for a six! The Red Knights are still the only unbeaten team and have 32 points. They are chased by Al Sadd and Al Rayyan, both four points behind.
In the week’s marquee clash, Al Duhail, under shrewd Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi, play Al Arabi, who pulled off a a crucial point against Al Sailiya last week and are eighth on 10 points.
Al Sadd and Al Sailiya both dropped points in the last round after being forced to draws, and will be keen to get back to the winning path. However, Al Sadd stayed second in the standings by virtue of having a better goal difference than Al Rayyan ((15 as against 13).
Al Sadd struggled in the absence of ace striker Baghdad Bounedjah and failed to score a goal against Al Markhiya. The Algerian is expected to recover from his injury and take the field against Al Sailiya.
Al Rayyan will be eager to extend their winning streak when they host Al Kharaitiyat, who come off a defeat to Umm Salal, while Al Sailiya travel to Al Sadd.
Al Rayyan coach Michael Laudrup said after their win over Al Khor, “This result was what we wanted. The most important thing is we’ve three more points from this match and we didn’t concede a goal.”
Umm Salal play host to Al Gharafa in a much-anticipated contest. The Cheetahs too tasted victory in the last round and their high-profile import, Dutchman Wesley Sneijder, had made his debut in Qatar.
Umm Salal, who rode on a double by Tunisian Oussama Darragi who straightaway impressed and promises to be a valuable addition to The Orange Fortress, are breathing down Al Sailiya’s neck for the fourth place.
Al Gharafa can take heart from the fact that their young players, such as Ahmed Alaeldin who scored both goals against Al Ahli, are coming good after every outing.
Al Ahli and Al Khor, who both suffered defeats, face each other, whereas Qatar SC and Al Markhiya, who occupy the bottom two places, have a date together.
With the players settling into their stride after a month-long winter break, and more and more signings being made by teams in the winter transfer window, the QNB Stars League’s Week 13 action is sure to get hotter.