Al Duhail 2019-20 QNB Stars League champions
Al Duhail are the 2019-20 season QNB Stars League champions. They regained the coveted shield after beating Al Ahli 1-0 in the final round (Week 22) at the Al Janoub Stadium on Friday.
Paulo Edmilson scored what turned out to be the all-important goal in the 24th minute.
The Red Knights emerged as the champions with 52 points following their 16th victory, the most by any team, even as Al Rayyan defeated Al Wakrah 2-0 in the simultaneous kick-off at the Al Sadd Stadium. The Lions ended up with 51 points.
Last season's champions Al Sadd went out of contention for the title and settled for the third place. And the title fight had gone down to the wire, between Al Duhail and Al Rayyan, with just one point separating the teams going into the final round.
The equation was that Al Duhail, coached by Walid Regragui, will emerge as victorious if they beat Al Ahli, irrespective of the result of Al Wakrah vs Al Rayyan game.
The crowning, Al Duhail's seventh, took place in accordance with the precautionary measures in place against the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Al Duhail called the shots right throughout, with the likes of Edmilson, Almoez and Mohammed Muntari leading their charge.
Players such as Mehdi Benatia and Mohammed Moosa in the defence, and Karim Boudiaf and Luis Martin in the midfield, made up for the absence of injured players Yousef Msakni, Assim Madibo and Ahmed Yasser.
Muntari started off by scoring a goal in the fourth minute, but it was ruled offside.
Soon, Al Ahli’s Nabil El Zhar wreaked havoc at the rival goalmouth.
The winning goal came as a result of a mistake committed by Al Ahli goalkeeper Ivanildo Rodriguez, who left his charge to do a rescue act outside the big box. In the process, he earned a yellow card and his team conceded a free-kick.
Edmilson stepped in to take the kick and the ball went in off the hand of Al Ahli’s Abdulrasheed Umaru, leaving Rodriguez stranded at the goal.
Almoez, who missed a clear chance to nod home the ball in the 13th minute, too found the target in the 41st minute, only to be ruled offside.
Al Duhail continued to press in the second half and Al Ahli’s Jasem Mohammed had to effect a goalmouth save to thwart Edmilson in the 50th minute.
The scoreline would have swelled had it not been for the alertness of Al Ahli defenders, particularly Shane Lowry.
Al Duhail had beaten Al Ahli 3-0 in the first leg of 2019-20 QNB Stars League.