Al Arabi vs Al Gharafa — 17th March, 2018 @ 18:05, Al Arabi Stadium
The clash between Al Arabi and Al Gharafa highlights the 2017-18 season QNB Stars League’s penultimate-week action. Both teams are coming off victory. The kick-off is at 18:05 at the Al Arabi Stadium.
In fact, all matches in the round will kick off simultaneously on Saturday, 17th March, in order to ensure equal advantage for the teams.
Al Arabi and Al Gharafa are on a high, the former completing a hat-trick of victories with their 3-1 win over Al Rayyan and the latter blanking Al Sailiya 3-0 to remain in the fourth position in the standings.
Al Gharafa are fourth in the table with 32 points, just one point ahead of Umm Salal, so they will be more keen on winning the next two games and maintain the spot, thereby earning a berth in the elite Qatar Cup.
The battle for the fourth spot had boiled down to one between Al Gharafa and Umm Salal after the conclusion of Week 20, where Al Sailiya were out of contention for it following their loss to Al Gharafa.
Only one point separates Al Gharafa and Umm Salal. Al Sailiya are further behind in the sixth position with 25 points.
Al Gharafa have nine wins, five draws and six defeats, while Al Arabi, in ninth position with 21 points, have to their credit five victories and six draws. The Dream Team have lost nine games.
Al Gharafa scored 39 goals and conceded 31 to have a goal difference of +8, whereas Al Arabi netted only 26 goals while receiving 39.
Perhaps, Al Gharafa are one team that took maximum advantage of the changes they made during the January transfer window. And they reaped rewards for them.
Turkish coach Bulent Uygun came in place of Frenchman Jean Fernandez, who had helped them clinch the QSL Cup, while Dutch attacking medio Wesley Sneijder and Iranian Mehdi Taremi immediately started giving returns for the investment. Asim Madbo too joined their ranks.
Al Gharafa were languishing at the seventh spot with just 11 points and two wins at the end of 11-round first phase.
Al Arabi, coached by Croat Luka Bonacic, also took advantage of the winter transfer window. They had only nine points at the end of first phase from two victories and three draws, but they did well of late and a hat-trick of victories is proof of that. They stayed off the danger zone as well.