QNB Stars League — Week 22 Highlights
The 2017-18 season QNB Stars League came to a close with the Week 22 action, played over Saturday and Sunday.
Al Duhail’s coronation at their home ground (they had already become champions after Week 20) and Al Gharafa finishing in the fourth position and thereby qualifying for the prestigious Qatar Cup after a fierce battle with Umm Salal were the highlights of the round.
Al Duhail made their crowning glory memorable with a comfortable 5-2 victory over Al Sailiya to remain as the only unbeaten side in the tournament. They finished on 60 points, 11 above second-placed Al Sadd, from 19 victories and three draws.
The Red Knights had more to cheer as Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi emerged as the top scorer, for the second successive season, with 26 goals as he beat a strong challenge from his captain and Tunisian attacking midfielder Youssef Msakni by just one goal.
El Arabi, who was nursing a knee injury, did not play the last-round match. Msakni took the field in the second half, but could not score and limped off the field after aggravating a knee injury that has ruled him out for almost six months. He will also miss this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Al Rayyan’s Abderrazaq Hamdallah did not score in their 4-1 win over Al Ahli, yet he finished third with 18 goals. The Moroccan forward left the field in pain due to an ankle injury and will be out of action for some weeks.
Al Sadd’s Baghdad Bounedjah, who scored twice in their 9-1 win over Al Kharaitiyat, came fourth on 16 goals. The Algerian striker had finished second in the scorers’ chart last season with 23 goals, one behind El Arabi.
Al Rayyan’s Rodrigo Tabata, who also scored two goals against Al Ahli, was fifth with 15 goals.
Al Sadd’s victory margin was the biggest this season. That surpassed Al Duhail’s 8-2 win, again over Al Kharaitiyat in Week 8.
Al Kharaitiyat, who had been assured of the 11th place with 16 points after Week 21, took the match slightly easy having earned a play-off berth with Second Division runners-up Al Wakrah for a place in next season’s top flight.
Similarly, Al Sadd, Al Rayyan and Al Sailiya were assured of the second, third and sixth place respectively.
Umm Salal needed to beat Al Markhiya and hope Al Gharafa drop points against Qatar SC as they both were on 32 points, with The Cheetahs ahead on goal difference (+6 against -1.
However, Al Gharafa stayed fourth with an easy 3-0 win over Qatar SC, while Umm Salal were held to a 1-1 draw by already-relegated Al Markhiya.
Al Khor made a big leap, from being 10th in the table to finish eighth with 24 points following their 2-1 win over Al Arabi, who still remained seventh.
Al Ahli and Qatar SC both slipped by one place, from eighth to ninth and ninth to 10th respectively.