QNB Stars League — Week 14 Highlights
For the first time during the 2017-18 season QNB Stars League, not a single position changed in the standings as Week 14 fixtures, played over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, saw three high-scoring games and as many draws.
The marquee clash between Al Duhail and Al Rayyan lived up to its billing in terms of action on the field, crowd turnout and high stakes involved. Justifiably, the game was played in an electrifying pace and ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Al Duhail extended their unbeaten run to yet another week, whereas all other teams have tasted defeats at some point or the other. The Red Knights took their points tally to 36. At the same time, Al Rayyan showed character by bouncing back into the game after being two goals in deficit in the first 15 minutes.
It was a far better show by The Lions than their first-phase match, which Al Duhail won 5-3, and they were aided this time by a brace from consistent scorer Abderrazaq Hamdallah who occupy the joint second spot in the top scorers’ list on 11 goals along with Al Duhail captain Youssef Msakni.
Al Duhail's Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi is leading the list of scorers with 19 goals though he did not find the mark in the last two rounds.
While Al Rayyan dropped points, Al Sadd did collect them fully as they defeated Al Gharafa 4-0. The Cheetahs were coming off back-to-back victories over Al Ahli and Umm Salal, but they came a cropper.
The Wolves (34) thus moved clear of Al Rayyan (32) in terms of the number of points collected after staying second on better goal difference than their arch-rivals for long.
In the process, Al Sadd (+25) improved their goal difference with Al Rayyan (+15) to +10 as against +6 after the last round. Al Gharafa, nevertheless, stood sixth with 17 points.
Algerian midfielder Jugurtha Hamroun contributed two goals, for the second successive week, to Al Sadd’s victory. So did Hassan Al Haydous.
Al Sailiya got back to winning ways, after a winless streak of five games, by prevailing over Al Markhiya, who were rooted to the bottom on eight points. Midfielder Wagner Ribeiro shone in The Peregrines’ 4-1 win and they have garnered 23 points so far as they stayed fourth.
It was Al Sailiya’s seventh victory as well, while Al Markhiya crashed to their eighth defeat to be rooted at the bottom with eight points.
Umm Salal could have displaced Al Sailiya had they won and the latter lost. Instead, the Orange Fortress played out a 1-1 draw with Al Ahli to remain fifth in the table with 20 points.
Qatar SC and Al Arabi too were locked in a 1-1 draw. The shared point would have been more welcome for Al Arabi, who are struggling to find their footing even under Croatian coach Luka Bonacic, who replaced Tunisian Qais Yaakoubi after seven rounds.
Qatar SC and Al Arabi are ninth and 10th respectively with 12 and 11 points.
Al Khor, eighth with 14 points, got their campaign back on track with a 2-0 victory over Al Kharaitiyat, who are 11th on nine points. The Thunders, staring at relegation, sacked their Tunisian coach Ahmad Al Ajlani and his assistant Tawfiq Zaboub, and gave charge to Yasser Al Sibai.
Week 14 saw 21 goals being scored compared to the previous round’s 24.