QNB Stars League 2018-19: Rise and fall of Al Gharafa
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 Gharafa are one of the few teams in the 2018-19 QNB Stars League that enjoyed technical stability. They are a club with rich history and great achievements, but they could finish only eighth with 26 points.
They started with Christian Gourcuff, who was recruited in place of Turkish coach Bulent Uygun. The Frenchman had coached Al Gharafa in the 2002-03 season.
At the same time, the team management retained the services of foreign professionals Dutchman Wesley Sneijder, Iranian Mehdi Tarmi, Portuguese Diogo Amado and Slovak Vladimir Weiss.
Al Gharafa also had many young players to depend on, such as goalkeeper Yousef Hassan, Muath Yahya, Amr Abdel Fattah, Elias Ahmed, Tamim Al Muhaza and Hassan Waleed. Teaming up with them were experienced players such as Abdelaziz Hatem, Yousef Muftah, Muad Hasan and Fahd Al Shammari.
The Cheetahs started off with a loss to Qatar SC, but recovered to beat Al Sailiya and then drew with Al Sadd in Week 3. At the end of QNB Stars League’s first leg, Al Gharafa were sixth with 15 points.
During the winter transfer window, Brazilian defender Lucas Mendes joined them from Al Duhail as replacement for injured Sneijder.
Eventually, Al Gharafa registered seven wins, five draws and 10 defeats to have a goal difference of -4 (35 goals for and 39 against). The number of goals scored by them was the fourth-best in the league, after Al Sadd (100), Al Duhail (52) and Al Sailiya (38). Fourth-placed Al Rayyan could score only 34 goals.
Al Gharafa had something to cheer during the season as they won the QSL Cup for the second season in a row, beating Al Duhail 1-0 in the final on 31st January, 2019.