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The 2023-2024 season Expo Stars League witnessed challenges and difficulties, and competition between the teams lasted till the final round.

It is certain that the teams will seek to build on their positives and address areas for improvement in order to be better in the new season (2024-2025).

In successive episodes, we review each team’s performance in the 2023-2024 Expo Stars League.

AL SHAMAL

Al Shamal faced many difficult situations and fluctuations in their levels during the season, but in the end they achieved their goal of remaining in the 2024-2025 season league. They moved away from the relegation zone in the last weeks of the tournament and avoided the Play-Off match.

It may be noted that Al Shamal had faced relegation threat in the 2022-2023 season and finished in 11th place with 18 points. And they had to beat Al Khor 2-1 in Play-Off to retain their place in the First Division.

This time around, Al Shamal ended up ninth with 25 points, the same as Qatar SC but behind on goal difference. They won six matches, drew seven and lost nine games. The team scored 28 goals and conceded 37.

Al Shamal had finished the first leg also in ninth place with 10 points (two wins, four draws and five defeats).

COACH

Al Shamal started the season under coach Poya Asbaghi, whom they signed in July, 2023, and whose contract they extended until 2026.

Asbaghi has been through a number of previous training experiences as he took over Swedish club Gothenburg and won the championship for them. He also trained Serbian side Red Star and won the championship with them as well. He also trained Barnsley in the second division of English League in 2021 in addition to coaching the Sweden Under-21 national team.

In top flight for fourth consecutive season

Al Shamal played many matches excellently under Asbaghi, who prepared the team psychologically and physically along with his support staff with the main aim of staying in the First Division for the 2024-2025 season – for the fourth consecutive time since their promotion to top flight in 2021-2022 season.

Season’s deals

Al Shamal signed a number of players, both foreign and local professionals, most notably striker Ricardo Gomes, Iranian midfielder Omid Ebrahimi, defender Jeison Murillo and Younes El Hannach. At the domestic level, they strengthened their ranks by signing Abdulaziz Al Ansari from Al Arabi and Diab Haroun from Al Duhail, Mowafaq Awad from Al Rayyan, Hassan Ahmed from Al Ahli and Mahdi Salem from Al Sadd.

Off with a draw

Al Shamal started off with a 1-1 draw against Al Arabi, then tied against Al Wakrah, lost to Al Rayyan and drew with Muaither. They then lost to Umm Salal, Al Markhiya and Al Duhail.

First victory in Week 8

Al Shamal had to wait until Week 8 to record their first victory in the Expo Stars League when they defeated Al Ahli 2-1. They followed it up with victory over Qatar SC, but lost to Al Sadd in Week 10 and drew with Al Gharafa to finish ninth in the first leg with 10 points.

Moroccan Younes Belhanda joins

As part of further strengthening the squad in the winter transfer window, Al Shamal signed prominent Moroccan midfielder Younes Belhanda from Turkish club Adana Demirspor.

During the AFC Asian Cup break, they played a friendly against Al Gharafa and won by a 2-1 margin.

Better results in second leg

Considering what Al Shamal achieved during the season in general, the team had better level and results (15 points) in the second leg compared to the first, during which they obtained 10 points.

Ricardo Gomes, the team’s top scorer

A number of players presented distinguished levels during the season and contributed to their goal of staying in the First Division, most notably striker Ricardo Gomes, the team’s top scorer in the league with 12 goals.

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Published on: 21/05/2024

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