QNB Stars League — Round 6 Friday Preview
The QNB Stars League will see three matches in Round 6 action on Friday — Umm Salal Vs Al Khor (Al Gharafa Stadium 17:20), Al Ahi Vs Al Arabi (Al Ahli Stadium 17:20) and Al Sadd Vs Al Rayyan (Al Sadd Stadium 19:30).
Umm Salal Vs Al Khor
Umm Salal cannot afford any more slip-ups if they have to be in the top four when they face Al Khor. Umm Salal (10 points) and Al Khor (four) occupy the fourth and eighth spot respectively. Umm Salal had lost to leaders and holders Al Duhail 1-4, while Al Khor crashed to an upset loss to newcomers Al Markhiya 0-1.
It was Umm Salal’s first defeat after enjoying an unbeaten run of 13 matches. The Orange Fortress coach Mahmoud Jaber said his team was ready to take on Al Khor and the players were all focused on the game. A victory will be crucial for them to stay in the top four.
Al Khor coach Laurent Banide said the game assumed much significance for them and they were hellbent on achieving a positive result.
Al Ahli Vs Al Arabi
Al Arabi (11th on three points) clash with Al Ahli (ninth on four points) in a precarious position. In the last round, Al Arabi had lost to Al Sadd 1-3, while Al Ahli blanked Qatar SC 3-0, riding on ever-reliable striker Meshaal Abdullah’s double, to post their first victory in the league.
Al Arabi’s only victory was against Qatar SC in the second round. They do not have any other point as the other fixtures had ended in their defeats. Al Arabi’s Tunisian coach Qais Yaakoubi is under immense pressure as the team is not faring well in terms of results even though he said they were improving with every match. And he believes good results will only come from good performances.
Al Ahli are again ruing their inability to put all four professional players together on the field. Colombian striker Cristian Nazareth is a doubtful starter for this match and they have relieved many players for national duty.
Al Sadd Vs Al Rayyan
The Al Sadd-Al Rayyan ‘Qatar Classico’ is the highlight of the day for the sheer excitement and hype it evokes both on and off the field. That it will be a thriller is a foregone conclusion. The fine form of both teams gives credence to the expectations.
Al Duhail and Al Sadd are moving neck and neck on top of the standings, and the latter, placed second on goal difference, will be keen to extend their winning run, while Al Rayyan will also look to collect full points and keep pace with the leading duo. Al Duhail and Al Sadd are on 15 points after five rounds, and Al Rayyan have 12.
Al Sadd enjoy an all-win record, while Al Rayyan’s only defeat was against leaders Al Duhail. Al Sadd had defeated Al Arabi 3-1 in the ‘Qatar Derby’ and Al Rayyan put it across Al Sailiya 1-0 in the previous round.
Al Sadd boast of World Cup and twice European Championship winner Xavi Hernandez, Algerian attacking midfielder Jugurtha Hamroun, his compatriot and striker Baghdad Bounedjah and Qatar international Hassan Al Haidous in their ranks. On the other hand, Al Rayyan will mainly rely on Moroccan forward Abderrazak Hamdallah, Rodrigo Tabata, Sebastian Soria and Mohsen Metwaly.