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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.

UMM SALAL

Umm Salal fared better in the 2023-2024 Expo Stars League compared to last season when they suffered a decline in results and levels, and faced relegation in the last rounds, which prompted the club’s management to develop a plan and restructure the team.

Better position

In terms of performance, Umm Salal achieved better results and advanced in the standings this season as they finished seventh with 28 points (seven victories, as many draws and eight defeats), the same as Al Duhail but behind them on goal difference compared to the 2022-2023 season when The Orange Fortress finished in 10th place with 18 points (three wins, 10 defeats and nine draws).

In terms of scoring goals also, this season was better for them as they scored a total of 32 goals compared to the 18 they scored last season. But the goals conceded this season was 37 as against 34 last season.

New coach with great ambition

Umm Salal signed French coach Patrice Carteron in June, 2023, as the club management was keen to prepare the team well ahead of the start of competitions.

Carteron has a good track record in coaching. He was at the helm of French clubs Cannes and Dijon, and Mali national team besides guiding Congolese club TP Mazembe to 2015 CAF Champions League triumph.

He has also coached Egyptian clubs Wadi Degla, Al Ahly and Zamalek in addition to Morocco’s Raja Casablanca and Saudi Arabia’s Al Taawoun and Al Ettifaq.

Strengthening the ranks

As part of the club management’s efforts to make the team appear at a better level during the season, the ranks were strengthened with high-calibre players, most notably Dutchman Kenji Joel Gorre, Algerians Victor Lekhal, Naim Laidouni and Andy Delort, and Moroccans Oussama Tannane and Marouane Louadni. They also signed Ali Afif, Hossam Kamal, Meshal Al Shammari and Walid Mansour.

Losing start

Umm Salal lost their first match in Expo Stars League to Al Sadd at the Al Bayt Stadium, and then tied with Al Arabi and Qatar SC.

First victory

Umm Salal scored their first victory in the league in Week 4 when they beat Al Ahli 3-1.

After fluctuating levels and mixed fortunes, the side finished the first leg in seventh place with 15 points.

Al Wahda friendly tournament and signing of Lucas Joao

During the AFC Asian Cup 2023 break and after Umm Salal won the 2023-2024 season Ooredoo Cup by defeating Al Arabi 3-1 in the final on penalties after the regular time ended in a 4-4 draw, the technical staff under Carteron developed a training programme to maintain the players’ readiness. And Umm Salal played in the Al Wahda friendly tournament in January, where they lost to Al Ettifaq of Saudi Arabia on penalties in the semifinal. They beat Zamalek of Egypt 2-0 in the third-place play-off. In the friendlies in Doha, Umm Salal lost 2-3 to Al Rayyan and 0-3 to Al Gharafa.

During the winter transfers, Umm Salal signed Portuguese striker Lucas Joao from Chinese Premier League champions Shanghai Port FC as replacement for Delort.

League returns

The league resumed after the Asian Cup 2023 break with Week 14 action, where Umm Salal drew with Qatar SC. Their last match was against Al Markhiya in Week 22. That ended in a 1-1 draw and Carteron’s men had to be content with the seventh spot.

Kenji Joel Gorre top-scores with nine goals

Kenji Joel Gorre appeared at a distinguished level during the season and was able to steer Umm Salal to victory in some matches. He top-scored for them with nine goals.

 

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Published on: 19/05/2024

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