Focus on tactical battles in Week 1 of 2019-20 QNB Stars League


The 2019-20 season QNB Stars League is all set for kick-off. Matches in the first five weeks have been scheduled at the Al Sadd and newly-opened Al Janoub Stadiums, with two games each on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Holders Al Sadd take on promoted side Al Wakrah in the opener (17:20) on Wednesday. It will be followed by the game between Qatar SC and defending Amir Cup champions Al Duhail (19:30).

Al Gharafa play Al Shahania (17:20), while Al Sailiya face Al Khor (19:30) on Thursday.

On Friday, it will be Al Arabi vs Al Ahli (17:20) and Al Rayyan vs Umm Salal (19:30).

Al Sadd are on a high, having lifted the season-opening Sheikh Jassim Cup by defeating Al Duhail 1-0 last week. The Wolves thus started well under new coach Xavi Hernandez, the Spanish midfield great who replaced Portuguese Jesualdo Ferreira after ending his playing career at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, Al Sadd had reached the AFC Champions League quarterfinal.

Al Sadd’s opponents Al Wakrah, coached by Spaniard Marquez Lopez, will be eagerly looking forward to make a strong start as they are back in the top flight after winning the Second Division championship.

Qatar SC, under Spaniard Carlos Alos Ferrer this season, have a tough task on hand when they take on reigning Amir Cup champions Al Duhail, who are still under Portuguese Rui Faria.

Al Gharafa, under the tutelage of Serb Slavisa Jokanovic, will face a gritty Al Shahania, who made much progress under Spaniard Jose Murcia last season, finishing in a creditable seventh position after earning promotion from the Second Division.

Al Sailiya, who made it big in the 2018-19 season by ending up third, are up against Al Khor, capable of giving opponents a run for their money.

Al Arabi and Al Ahli face off in a battle between two mid-table teams last season. Both sides retained their coaches, Al Arabi being managed by Icelander Heimir Hallgrimsson and Al Ahli by Spaniard Ruben de la Barrera.

Al Rayyan run into Umm Salal in the week’s last encounter. Uruguayan Diego Aguirre is back in Al Rayyan’s managerial role, while Spaniard Raul Caneda stayed at Umm Salal’s helm.

Coaches will be trying to make their sides technically stronger, especially with the signing of new recruits, and all teams are sure to make a strong start that will give them an edge.