Al Rayyan vs Al Arabi — 9th March, 2018 @ 20:10, Al Sadd Stadium
Much is at stake when Al Rayyan face the Al Arabi challenge in the marquee clash in Week 20 of the QNB Stars League on Friday, 9th March. The kick-off is at 20:10 at the Al Sadd Stadium.
The match has greater significance as it also involves traditional rivalry between two of Qatar’s oldest clubs with the most passionate and loyal fans.
Al Rayyan are third in the QNB Stars League table with 39 points, while Al Arabi are ninth on 18 points.
Al Rayyan suffered a demoralising 1-6 defeat to Al Gharafa, whereas Al Arabi registered their second successive victory by prevailing 3-1 over Al Markhiya. They had beaten Al Kharaitiyat in Week 18.
The Lions had recently lost out in the title race and now trail leaders Al Duhail by 12 points and second-placed Al Sadd by seven.
Al Rayyan, coached by Danish great Michael Laudrup, recovered from the big loss to Al Duhail as they held Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal 1-1 in their third-round away game in Group D of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday. The return fixture is in Doha on 12th March.
The Lions had drawn their first two matches and are second in Group D with three points.
On the other hand, Al Arabi do not have continental engagements and are keen to collect as many points as possible so that they can improve their position. The six points from the last two wins have boosted their confidence enormously and The Dream Team are now breathing easily having warded off relegation threat to a great extent.
Croatian coach Luka Bonacic has succeeded in instilling confidence in the players and their performance in the second phase of QNB Stars League is proof for that.
At the end of first phase, Al Arabi had only nine points, half of what they have now. And they had conceded 24 goals as against 38 now. That shows the defensive and result-oriented approach by Bonacic, who replaced Qais Yaakoubi towards the end of first phase. They lost to only unbeaten side Al Duhail by a 0-1 margin in Week 13.
Al Arabi will surely look to build on all that as they seek wins in the remaining three games and compensate for their slump resulting from a sedate start to this season’s league competition.