QNB Stars League 2018-19: Al Arabi benefit from positive changes


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After the end of 2018-19 season, all QNB Stars League clubs are looking at ways to avoid the drawbacks and rectify the mistakes ahead of the new season.

As part of coverage of the league championship that went by, the Qatar Stars League website analyses all 12 teams’ performance in the 2018-19 QNB Stars League, in the order of their final standings.

AL ARABI

Although Al Arabi could not finish among the top four in the 2018-19 QNB Stars League, they had raised visions of achieving that target many times. Dropping points in the last few matches cost them dear and they eventually ended up sixth with 30 points.

The Dream Team had 10 victories (the same number as fourth-placed Al Rayyan and fifth-placed Al Ahli) and 12 draws defeats against their name. Al Arabi did not register a draw in the entire tournament. They had a goal difference of -14 (27 goals for and 41 against).

Al Arabi began the season under Croatian coach Luka Bonasic, who had taken up the reins from Tunisian Qais Yacoubi in November, 2017.

On the foreign professional player front, only Brazilian midfielder Diego Jardel stayed, while they recruited Brazilian Mailson de Farias, Colombian Franco Hurtado and Iraqi Ahmed Ibrahim.

As far as Qatari players were concerned, Al Arabi took on board Mohammed Salah El Neel, Fahd Khalfan and Mustafa Abdi among others.

They started off on a winning note, beating Al Khor 1-0. However, they crashed to a 1-10 defeat to Al Sadd in Week 2, but bounced back in style with victories against Al Kharaitiyat (1-0) and Umm Salal (5-1).

After losing 0-1 to Al Rayyan, Al Arabi recorded another big-margin victory (3-0 against Al Shahania).

They then had the ignominy of suffering five successive defeats (against Al Sailiya, Al Gharafa, Al Ahli, Qatar SC and Al Duhail).

The setback led to the exit of Bonacic, who was replaced by the club's Under-23 coach Hatem Al Moaddeb from Tunisia.

The change at the helm seemed to have made an impact as Al Arabi defeated Al Khor 1-0 in Week 12, Al Kharaitiyat 2-1 in Week 14 and Umm Salal 3-0 in Week 15.

The team management roped in Icelandic coach Heimir Hallgrimsson in December when the QNB Stars League took a break after Week 15 action.

They also replaced Mailson as well as Franco and signed Iranian defender Morteza Mohammed, Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony and Spanish midfielder Victor Vazquez.

Following the Qatar Football Association's decision to allow clubs to recruit an Arab professional player, Ahmed Ibrahim belonged to that quota and Morteza became the Asian professional in the squad.

Al Arabi went on to sign some Qatari players and in came Ibrahim Majed, Musab Khader, Hashim Ali and Yousef Abdulrazaq, all from Al Sadd.

The changes greatly contributed to improvement in the team’s level and they recorded many positive results, especially the wins over Al Shahania, Al Sailiya and Qatar SC.