The QNB Stars League is back this weekend after a fortnight-long break due to international commitments. Defending champions Al Sadd won’t be in action as their match against Al Sailiya has been postponed to September 24th due to their AFC Champions League second-leg quarter-final against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in Doha on Monday.
The air-conditioned Al Janoub Stadium and Al Sadd Stadium will once again host the matches, making it comfortable for players and spectators alike. This weekend’s pick of the matches is Al Duhail vs Al Rayyan. Duhail are currently fourth in the standings with four points and Al Rayyan eighth with two points.
Today, struggling Umm Salal will look for their first win of the season when they take on Al Arabi. Umm Salal, who had lost 0-1 to Al Khor, have only one point to their credit, which they earned by holding Al Rayyan in their opener. Umm Salal coach Raul Caneda said his players will have to be at their best to beat Al Arabi.
“Al Arabi are always tough opponents. We must make great efforts to win against them. We must win this game. Each match is different, but we know how to deal with Al Arabi. Both teams have good players,” he said.
“I hope we score our first victory sooner rather than later. We’re going step by step, we’ll do what it takes to register victories. It’ll be difficult to play against Al Arabi and their die-hard supporters. But it’s good to play in front of many fans and I love to play before a good crowd. We faced Al Rayyan at the beginning of this season in front of their fans and still drew the match,” added Caneda.
The new-look Al Arabi are on a high as they occupy the third position in the standings with four points. The Dream Team followed up their opening-week defeat of Al Ahli with a creditable 1-1 draw against strong contenders Al Duhail. Al Arabi coach Heimir Hallgrimsson said despite a draw against Duhail his team has much to improve.
“That Duhail result indicated the progress we’ve made and I hope we put up better performances. It’s too early to talk about our title chances. We’re working hard and we know that we still have areas for improvement. We’re still trying to build a team for the future and we’ve a lot more work to do. We’ll fight for every point,” said Hallgrimsson.
Meanwhile, Al Khor and Al Ahli will open the week’s action on a confident note as both teams are coming off victories. Al Khor beat Umm Salal 1-0 in their previous match to maintain their unbeaten record, while Al Ahli bounced back from their defeat to Al Arabi with an impressive 3-0 win over Al Sailiya. Al Khor are fifth in the table with four points and Al Ahli sixth with three points.
On the eve of the match, Al Ahli coach Ruben de la Barrera said his side will push hard for victory against Al Khor. “We used the break to prepare the team well despite the absence of international players. Overall, we’re ready to face Al Khor. We’ll push them hard for a win,” he said.
“The victory over Al Sailiya in the last round was important. It wasn’t just about winning, but also improving our performance and continuing it at the same level throughout the game. The Al Sailiya match is past, and the focus is now on Al Khor and how to achieve our second victory. Al Khor had also won in the last round (against Umm Salal). We won’t allow them to play their natural game,” added Barrera.
On the other hand, Al Khor coach Omar Najhi said a friendly match played during the break has helped his players stay in good shape. “We are ready to face Al Ahli. We could rectify a number of tactical errors during the break. We played a friendly to give players, who did not play in the last two rounds, the opportunity to play and also make them ready for the games, he said.
Today: Al Khor vs Al Ahli (16:55, Al Janoub Stadium); Umm Salal vs Al Arabi (19:05, Al Sadd Stadium)
Tomorrow: Al Shahania vs Al Wakrah (16:55, Al Janoub Stadium); Qatar SC vs Al Gharafa (19:05, Al Sadd Stadium)
On Sunday: Al Duhail vs Al Rayyan (19:05, Al Janoub Stadium).