QSL Cup — Round 3 Highlights & Round 4 Preview
The Round 3 of the QSL Cup, played on Tuesday, 7th November, and Wednesday, 8th November, witnessed some exciting contests. And the fight looks set to intensify as some teams target semifinal spots from the fourth round, to be held on Sunday, 12th November, and Monday, 13th November.
The third and fourth rounds were played during the two-week break for the QNB Stars League due to international commitments.
In Group A, Al Khor beat Al Sailiya 2-1, Al Kharaitiyat and Al Duhail shared the spoils following an eight-goal thriller, and Al Gharafa defeated Qatar SC 2-1.
In Group B, Al Rayyan defeated Al Markhiya 5-2, Umm Salal overcame Al Sadd 2-1 and Al Ahli prevailed over Al Arabi 3-2.
Al Gharafa and Al Rayyan continued their winning run and both top their groups with nine points each.
Moroccan striker Abderrazaq Hamdallah continued from where he left off in the QNB Stars League by scoring a hat-trick in Al Rayyan’s big win at the Al Gharafa Stadium.
Al Markhiya can take heart from the fact that they missed some key players either through national duty or injuries. Experienced midfielder Anas Mubarak, one of their new recruits along with former Qatar national team captain as well as defender Bilal Mohammed and striker Abdulqadir Ilyas, scored for them. And coach Yousef Adam gave chances to many youngsters, as was the case with most teams.
The tournament seems to be serving its purpose because it is imperative that young players get as much playing time as possible, thereby providing their clubs and the Qatar national team with a wider player pool to choose from, especially since the country is gearing up to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Al Duhail and Al Sadd continued to stay at the bottom of Group A and B respectively. Both teams have been fielding their youngsters in the tournament right from the start. Al Duhail played under their Under-23 coach and former Algerian international Madjid Bougherra, who represented erstwhile Lekhwiya in Qatar during 2011-14.
Al Khor played under caretaker coach Omar Najhi after Frenchman Laurent Banide was sacked after six rounds in the QNB Stars League following a series of bad results. They had lost to leaders Al Duhail in Round 7 as well.
However, this time, they got the better of Al Sailiya. Al Khor later on Wednesday named Tunisian Nassif Al Bayawi as their new coach.
The Al Kharaitiyat vs Al Duhail encounter had all ingredients of a thriller at the Al Shamal Stadium, while Umm Salal grabbed a valuable win in the final moments of the game to defeat Al Sadd at the Al Khor Stadium. Umm Salal now have five points and are placed second behind Al Rayyan in Group B. Al Kharaitiyat are placed second in Group A with seven points.
The venue of two matches (Al Arabi vs Al Ahli and Al Sailiya vs Al Khor) had been changed from Al Duhail to Al Wakrah and Al Gharafa Stadium respectively. The changes were made because Al Duhail is hosting international friendlies featuring Qatar, the Czech Republic and Iceland.
Similarly, the venue of Al Rayyan vs Umm Salal match in the last and fourth round, scheduled for Sunday, 12th November, has been moved from Al Duhail to Al Arabi Stadium. Al Sadd vs Al Arabi and Al Markhiya vs Al Ahli are the day’s other fixtures.
Monday, 13th November, will see Al Gharafa playing Al Kharaitiyat, Al Duhail facing Al Sailiya and Qatar SC vying with Al Khor.
Al Gharafa and Al Rayyan will book semifinal berths should they win.
Round 4 fixtures
Sunday, 12th November
Al Rayyan vs Umm Salal, Al Arabi Stadium, 16:05
Al Sadd vs Al Arabi, Al Ahli Stadium, 18:15
Al Markhiya vs Al Ahli, Al Wakrah Stadium, 18:15
Monday, 13th November
Al Gharafa vs Al Kharaitiyat, Al Ahli Stadium, 16:05
Al Duhail vs Al Sailiya, Al Wakrah Stadium, 18:15
Qatar SC vs Al Khor, Al Shamal Stadium, 18:15