Umm Salal: Keen to move up in standings
Clubs are continuing their preparations ahead of the resumption of 2019-20 QNB Stars League, with Week 18 matches starting on 24th July. The tournament, which had a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will resume as per the general plan and protocol for the remaining five rounds. Teams are fighting to occupy the top positions, improve their rankings and avoid the ignominy of relegation.
The Qatar Stars League (QSL) website highlights each team and their preparations ahead of the resumption of competitions.
Umm Salal, under the stewardship of Moroccan Aziz Ben Askar, will run into leaders Al Duhail in Week 18 at the Al Janoub Stadium on 25th July, 2020. The kick-off is at 16:45.
Umm Salal are 11th in the QNB Stars League standings with 14 points, the same as Al Khor but behind on goal difference. The Orange Fortress have a goal difference of -18, as against Al Khor’s -8.
Both Umm Salal and Al Khor have three victories, five draws and nine defeats against their name, with the former scoring 15 goals and conceding 33. The number of goals scored is the least by any team and that is a cause for concern.
The team produced some positive results this year, after suffering a string of negative results in the first leg, ever since Ben Askar, himself a former Umm Salal defender, took charge last November.
Following their first coronavirus test, held as per the protocol developed by the QSL in co-ordination with club authorities and approved by the Ministry of Public Health, Umm Salal squad members entered their team hotel and got engaged in training.
After their second coronavirus test, the players as well as technical and administrative staff signed a pledge to abide by the protocol for leaving team hotel for home quarantine.
Among their overseas recruits, Ben Askar retained only Syrian striker Mahmoud Al Mawas, while offloading Brazilian Joao Victor, Spaniard Victor Vasquez, Ivorian Yannick Sagbo and Moroccan Adil Rhaili. In came Enes Sipovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Argentinian Raul Becerra, and the Algerian duo of Ayoub Azzi and Walid Mesloub.
And forward Ismail Mahmoud has returned to the Umm Salal fold following his loan spell at Al Wakrah.
Besides intense training, they are readying for the resumption of action by playing some friendlies. They held Al Sadd to a 1-1 draw and lost 0-3 to Al Rayyan.
Umm Salal, facing relegation threat, will be eager to continue their unbeaten run as they have not tasted defeat ever since their 0-4 loss to Al Rayyan in Week 12 on 3rd January. They then defeated Al Khor 1-0, drew 1-1 with Al Arabi, drew 2-2 with reigning champions Al Sadd, beat Al Wakrah 2-1 before playing out a 2-2 draw with Al Shahania (on 5th March before the long break).
Umm Salal’s other remaining matches in the QNB Stars League are against Qatar SC (Week 19), Al Ahli (Week 20), Al Gharafa (Week 21) and Al Sailiya (Week 22).