QNB Stars League Week 11 — Friday Preview
Friday’s matches in Week 11 of the QNB Stars League are Al Arabi vs Al Khor (Al Arabi Stadium, 16:00), Al Markhiya vs Umm Salal (Al Arabi Stadium, 18:10) and Qatar SC vs Al Gharafa (Qatar SC Stadium, 18:10).
Al Arabi vs Al Khor
Both Al Arabi and Al Khor had lost in the last round, to Al Gharafa and Al Sadd respectively. While Al Arabi caved in meekly after taking the lead, A Khor gave title contenders Al Sadd a hard run for their money before going down at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Al Khor are eighth in the standings with 10 points and Al Arabi bottom on six.
Al Khor’s game mainly revolved around Brazilian import Madson with Iranian professional player Soroush Hossein in supporting role.
Al Khor’s Tunisian coach Nassif Al Bayawi stressed that they were so keen to win this game which, from their point of view, offers ‘six points’ as they badly want to finish the first phase with a win.
His Al Arabi counterpart Luka Bonacic will not have Syrian striker Mardik Mardikian at his disposal as he is nursing an injury. However, the Croat will have the services of right-back Hamed Ismail, who was suspended for the last match.
Al Markhiya vs Umm Salal
That they have not won in four matches is a cause of concern for Umm Salal coach Mahmoud Jaber, who told the pre-match Press conference that they had a golden opportunity now to reverse the trend even though they are not taking the promoted side lightly.
Team spirit is high among the Umm Salal ranks. If they can repeat the form they showed while holding Al Rayyan last week, then the rivals will have a tough time.
Al Markhiya are precariously placed 11th with six points. They have only one victory so far and are not having a great time of late. However, they could limit the damage against Al Duhail last week, losing by a narrow margin (1-2).
Coach Yousef Adam said they would not get overawed because Umm Salal, fifth with 15 points, are a formidable side and that victory would help them prepare for the second phase in a positive frame of mind.
Qatar SC vs Al Gharafa
Under new Qatari coach Abdullah Mubarak, who replaced Argentinian Gabriel Calderon, Qatar SC are fresh from a great week that saw them register only their second victory, against Al Kharaitiyat.
After a long slump which witnessed their stay at the very bottom, Qatar SC did well for a change and moved to 10th with seven points. Their future prospects will largely depend on how well Abdullah succeeds in transforming a group of players, whose morale was low under Calderon, into a winning unit.
Al Gharafa suffered a double blow in Week 10 as they lost influential midfielder Vladimir Weiss for the season with a cruciate ligament injury during their defeat to Al Arabi.
Jean Fernandez’s men have to lift their performance by a few notches if they are to beat Qatar SC.
Al Gharafa have just been drawn into a play-off with Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor in Doha on January 30. If The Cheetahs win, they will be clubbed in Group A, which also comprises the UAE’s Al Jazira, Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli and Iran’s Tractorsasi.