QNB Stars League Round 8 — Sunday Preview
The QNB Stars League’s Round 8 fixtures on Sunday are Al Sadd vs Umm Salal (16:00), Al Arabi vs Al Rayyan(18:10) and Al Duhail vs Al Kharaitiyat (18:10). Home teams are mentioned first.
Al Sadd vs Umm Salal
Al Sadd and Umm Salal are the third and fifth-placed team respectively. Al Sadd had same number of points (18) and goal difference (nine) as Al Rayyan, but were placed behind on less number of goals scored.
Umm Salal are on 13 points and have registered four victories thus far as against Al Sadd’s six.
Both teams slipped by one position in the standings after the last round and will be keen to regain the lost ground.
The return from injuries of Spanish playmaker Xavi Hernandez, Algerian attacking midfielder Jugurtha Hamroun and Qatar international Boualem Khoukhi give Al Sadd a big boost. And the presence of Hamroun’s compatriot Baghdad Bounedjah and another Qatar national team player Hassan Al Haidous make them a formidable outfit.
Umm Salal will rely heavily on Ivorian striker Yannick Sagbo and Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Al Mawas, who are in good form.
Al Arabi vs Al Rayyan
Going by form, second-placed Al Rayyan start as favourites against ninth-placed Al Arabi in the highlight match of Round 8.
Al Rayyan, who pushed Al Sadd to third in the table after Round 7, are flying high. They have also just made it to the semifinals of QSL Cup with an all-win record. The outstanding form of strikers Abderrazaq Hamdallah and Sebastian Soria, and playmaker Rodrigo Tabata, who equally share 15 of the team’s total number of 19 goals, should see them extend their winning run.
On the other hand, Al Arabi will be a charged-up lot as they play their first league match under new coach Luka Bonacic. The Croat replaced Tunisian Qais Yaakoubi, who took over The Dream Team’s reins at the start of this season.
And they have the likes of Mardik Mardikian, Diego Jardel as well as homegrown talents Khalfan Ibrahim and Hamad Ismail to challenge the rivals’ might.
Al Duhail vs Al Kharaitiyat
Going by form, leaders Al Duhail, studded with many star players, should have the last laugh when they welcome Al Kharaitiyat though the latter have the likes of Rachid Tiberkanine to make a difference. Al Duhail and Al Kharaitiyat have collected 19 and six points respectively.
Al Duhail are the lone unbeaten side in the tournament. The only time they dropped points was when they were held by Al Gharafa.
Al Kharaitiyat had drawn their last two games, against Al Markhiya and Al Arabi, after their victory over Al Gharafa in Round 5, so they can’t afford to drop points although they will approach the game in a realistic manner.