Al Sadd seize advantage before QNB Stars League takes break


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Al Sadd seized the advantage by surging to the top of QNB Stars League table before it was stopped after 15 weeks of action.

The QNB Stars League will resume after the Asian Cup in the UAE from 5th January to 1st February, 2019.

Al Sadd have 38 points, two more than reigning champions Al Duhail. The Wolves grabbed the lead following their 3-1 victory over Al Duhail in the last league fixture played on 11th December before the long break.

The Al Sadd vs Al Duhail game was rescheduled from Week 9 due to the former’s AFC Champions League engagement. The win also gave Jesualdo Ferreira’s men a psychological advantage ahead of the remaining fixtures.

Al Sadd have won 12 matches, the most by any team. Al Duhail are close behind on 11 wins.

Al Sadd also have the best goal difference (+51) and the best attack line that has scored 65 goals. Al Duhail are second on 37 goals. Al Sadd have the joint second-best defence, after Al Duhail, which has conceded only 14 goals, the same as Al Rayyan.

Al Sadd have drawn two matches (1-1 against both Al Gharafa and Al Sailiya), while their only loss came against Al Ahli (1-4).

The team started the season on a strong note and has been performing consistently well, with Spanish stars Xavi Hernandez as well as Gabi Fernandez, South Korean midfielder Jung Woo-Young, Algerian ace and tournament top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah, Qatari talent Akram Afif and Qatar international Hassan Al Haydous leading the charge.

Portuguese Ferreira, a shrewd tactician, has succeeded in moulding the players into a well-knit unit over a period of time.

Al Sadd had recruited Tariq Salman from Al Wakrah this season and renewed the contract with Akram who was roped in from Villarreal in the winter transfer window last season.

Xavi & Co achieved some notable results in the league, including the 10-1 win over Al Arabi in Week 2. That is so far the biggest margin of victory in this season’s QNB Stars League and Baghdad scored seven goals in the match.

Al Sadd’s other wins were against Al Kharaitiyat (6-0 and 7-1), Al Rayyan (5-0), Al Shahania (4-0 and 4-1), Al Arabi (3-0), Al Khor (2-1), Qatar SC (5-1) and Umm Salal (5-1) and Al Gharafa (8-1).

Al Sadd’s remaining games in the QNB Stars League are against Al Khor, Al Rayyan, Qatar SC, Al Sailiya, Al Duhail, Al Ahli and Umm Salal. Among them, the games against Al Rayyan, Al Duhail and Al Sailiya are sure to be tough as they are the other teams presently in the top-four bracket.

The title race will undoubtedly be between Al Sadd and Al Duhail, and it will in all probability go right down to the wire. The big question among Al Sadd fans is ‘will the team regain the coveted league shield which they last won in the 2012-13 season’?