QNB Stars League- Round 1 Talking Points
The dust has now settled on a frantic opening round of QNB Stars league action, which saw 24 goals and plenty of interesting results. Here in our regular feature Talking Points we will go over the moments that mattered.
Promoted sides impress in opening matches
Newly promoted Al Markiya provided the performance of the weekend with a shock 2-1 win over last seasons Qatar Cup winners Al Sadd. Yusef Adam’s side showed plenty of composure to come from behind to beat Sadd 2-1.
Most people wouldn’t have given the new boys a chance against Al Sadd, but were masterfully set up to take the Wolves on the break. This was further underlined when substitute Mohamed Salah scored two late goals to seal a memorable opening day victory for Markhiya.
Likewise, Qatar SC showed plenty of poise in attack and just missed out on the points in a 3-2 defeat to Al Duhail. The Kings took their chances when it mattered, and looked set to share the points with the Red Knights, before striker Yusef El Arabi bundled in a injury time winner for the former champions.
Veteran coach Gabriel Calderón set his side up perfectly, and summer signing Habib Habibou impressed in his role as lone striker holding up the ball well for the more than willing midfield runners. Despite losing the points Qatar SC fans will be hopeful that they will be avoiding a relegation battle this season. It certainly promises to be an interesting match when both sides take on each other on Friday evening.
Youthful outlook at Al Gharafa?
Jean Fernandez’s Al Gharafa fought hard to pick a well deserved point in a 1-1 draw against Al Ahli, in the opening match of the QNB Stars league season. More impressive from the Cheetah’s was that majority of the squad for the game was U23 and formally part of the Gharafa youth set-up.
This summer Gharafa changed their direction in the transfer market, opting to invest in exciting youth prospects rather than seasoned local players. The initial gamble certainly seems to have paid off, with Gharafa playing a fast-paced attacking brand of football. Fernandez will be hoping that his young stars can step up again when they take on Umm Salal on Thursday evening, in the opening match of round two of the QNB Stars League.
Sailiya set to surprise this season
Many sides in the QNB Stars League opted for a vast overhaul in playing staff over the summer. However Al Sailiya elected for stability, keeping the majority of their professional and local players with former Al Sadd man Nadir Belhadj being the only signing of note for the Peregrines.
Prior to the start of the league, head coach Sami Trabelsi revealed that this was one of the best group of players that he was worked with at the club. The Sailiya squad certainly proved their coach right on Saturday evening, picking up an impressive 3-1 win over Al Arabi, which included a brace from midfielder Wagner Ribero. The team know each other well and providing the results keep coming, Trabesi’s side could be a surprise package this season.