Al Rayyan eager to sustain momentum in QNB Stars League
Al Rayyan will be eager to sustain the momentum and remain in the top four in QNB Stars League standings when the tournament resumes after the Asian Cup in the UAE (5th January-1st February).
After 15 weeks of action, Al Rayyan are fourth with 27 points, one point less than third-placed Al Sailiya and one more than fifth-placed Al Ahli.
Top two teams Al Sadd and Al Duhail are ahead of them with 38 and 36 points respectively. The 2018-19 season QNB Stars League title race will most likely be between them.
The Lions have seven victories and six draws to their credit, while they lost two matches. They have a goal difference of +8 (22 goals for and 14 against).
Al Rayyan have a crucial factor to their advantage. Reigning champions Al Duhail’s defence is the best, having conceded only 13 goals, but Al Rayyan and Al Sadd are joint second with 14 goals against.
Al Rayyan started the current season under Argentinian coach Rodolpho Arruabarrena, who later parted ways with the side by mutual consent after the eighth round. Two foreign professionals, Brazilian Lucca Borges and Argentinian Jonathan Menendez, were also hired, while South Korean Koh Myong-Jin and Uruguayan Gonzalo Vieira stayed from last season.
Renowned Qatari player Khalfan Ibrahim joined Al Rayyan from Al Arabi ahead of this season. So did Dame Traore. The duo undoubtedly strengthened the squad even as they missed the services of injured Jonathan in some matches.
The change of coach, new recruits taking time to adapt and injuries to some players adversely affected the team as they suffered a few setbacks.
Al Rayyan were at the receiving end in some crucial games. They lost to Al Sadd in the Qatar Clasico by a 0-5 margin.
At the same time, Al Rayyan pulled off some impressive wins. They defeated Al Kharaitiyat 6-0 in Week 5 and held Al Duhail to draws in both legs.
Although the team has a good attack line, the number of goals they scored (22) does not match the potential considering the presence of outstanding players in their ranks such as Sebastian Soria, Lucca, Rodrigo Tabata and Khalfan.
However, the team can take heart from a stingy defence and the good form of Fahd Younis Ahmed, who got his chance in the last few rounds after regular goalkeeper Omar Barri got injured.