QNB Stars League Week 12 — Saturday Preview
The QNB Stars League will see three fixtures on Saturday — Al Rayyan vs Al Khor (Al Sadd Stadium, 16:20), Al Sadd vs Al Markhiya (Al Sadd Stadium, 18:30) and Qatar SC vs Al Duhail (Qatar SC Stadium, 18:30).
Al Rayyan vs Al Khor
Third-placed Al Rayyan (25 points) will be wary of Al Khor, who occupy the eighth position in the standings with 10 points. It was evident from the words of The Lions coach Michael Laudrup at the pre-match Press conference when he described The Knights as a tricky side.
Al Rayyan had won their first-phase encounter 4-2, but Al Khor are now a transformed unit under Tunisian coach Nassif Al Bawayi, who replaced Laurent Banide.
Al Rayyan have the lethal duo of Abderrazaq Hamdallah, Rodrigo Tabata and Sebastian Soria in their ranks. Hamdallah is the third-best scorer in the QNB Stars League with eight goals, while Tabata and Soria have seven each to their credit.
Al Khor are likely to make some shopping in the current transfer window because they badly need an outright striker and right-back. Brazilian attacking midfielder Madson yet again carries their scoring hopes, while Iranian Soroush Hossein and captain Naif Al Buriki hold their defence together.
Al Sadd vs Al Markhiya
Al Sadd will sorely miss Algerian spearhead Baghdad Bounedjah, who is still recuperating from a nagging injury he suffered in the ninth round. He is likely to play against Al Sailiya in the next round.
The Wolves also have goalkeeper Saoud Al Hajri on the injury list as he is to receive further treatment for his anterior cruciate ligament injury at a rehabilitation centre in Espanyol, Spain. He may regain full fitness by early February.
However, Xavi & Co have the wherewithal to put it across any side and they cannot afford slip-ups if they have to be in strong contention for the league title.
It is high time Al Markhiya punched way above their weight as the promoted side faces relegation having been at the bottom of the table with just seven points.
Coach Yousef Adam is working hard on his players’ lack of finishing inside the area as they have been at the receiving end because of missed opportunities.
Al Markhiya had won in the first phase, but the result was overturned for fielding an ineligible player.
Qatar SC vs Al Duhail
The big question is whether Qatar SC will stop the Al Duhail juggernaut? Going by form and position, leaders The Red Knights (29 points) should have it easy against The Kings, who are lying 11th with eight points. But Qatar SC coach Abdullah Mubarak is confident that his players would put up a fighting display this time too.
The first-phase match had ended 3-2 in favour of Al Duhail.
Al Duhail have the tournament’s best two scorers in star striker Youssef El Arabi (16) and attacking midfielder Youssef Msakni (nine). And playmaker Nam Tae-Hee is there with seven goals.
Abdullah has succeeded in instilling confidence in Qatar SC players ever since he took over from Argentinian Gabriel Calderon. He would just hope his wards show good cohesion on the field.