Al Kharaitiyat stay in QNB Stars League


Al Kharaitiyat proved they belonged to the QNB Stars League. The Thunders remained in Qatar football’s top flight by defeating Al Wakrah 2-1 in play-off at the Al Ahli Stadium on Saturday.

The play-off was between QNB Stars League’s 11th-placed team Al Kharaitiyat and Second Division runners-up Al Wakrah.

Rachid Tiberkanine (17th minute) and Majid Salmeen (72nd) scored the goals for Al Kharaitiyat, while Anthony Bassey pulled one back for Al Wakrah in the 86th minute.

Al Kharaitiyat players’ joy knew no bounds, whereas their Al Wakrah counterparts were crestfallen at the final whistle despite dominating the game with 56 per cent ball possession.

Al Kharaitiyat surged ahead when Tiberkanine latched on to a long through ball and neatly finished past Al Wakrah goalkeeper Mohammed Enyas. The Moroccan striker took advantage of a disorganised rival defence and beat his marker Mohammed Faris before unleashing a placing shot.

Tiberkanine was Al Kharaitiyat’s top scorer in the just-concluded QNB Stars League with 13 goals. He was also the sixth-best goal getter after Al Duhail’s Youssef El Arabi (26 goals), Youssef Mskani (25), Al Rayyan’s Abderrazaq Hamdallah (18), Al Sadd’s Baghdad Bounedjah (16) and Al Rayyan’s Rodrigo Tabata (15).

Al Wakrah had more possession in the first half and they continued to enjoy it in the second even though the opponents succeeded in creating more chances.

Play was briefly stopped around the hour mark when Anyas got injured on his head following a clash with his defender Faris when they tried to avert an Al Kharaitiyat danger.

Al Kharaitiyat, coached by Syrian Yasser Sebaei who replaced Tunisian Ahmed Al Ajlani in the second phase of QNB Stars League, had Tiberkanine leading their charge, supported by Anwar Diba and Uzbek Sanjar Tursunov.

Bassey was the livewire in the ranks of Al Wakrah, coached by Spaniard Marquez Lopez. They also had the services of Prince Ibara and Kuwaiti midfielder Sultan Al Anzi, while professional player Youssoupha Mbengue, who played for Al Khor last season, started on the bench.

Al Kharaitiyat doubled their lead through Majid’s solo effort and Bassey reduced the margin for Al Wakrah with a free-kick that went in past a diving goalkeeper Ahmed Sofyan. 

Had the play-off tie ended in a draw after regular time, an extra time of 30 minutes (divided into two halves) would have been allowed. If the deadlock still continued, it would have been decided in tie-breaker.

Al Kharaitiyat had finished their league engagements with 16 points after losing big-time to Al Sadd (1-9) in the last round.

Al Wakrah finished second behind Al Shahania in the Second Division whose champions directly qualify for the QNB Stars League.

Al Shahania were relegated to the Second Division last season after losing the play-off to Qatar SC by a lone goal.