QNB Stars League — Week 12 Preview
The QNB Stars League will resume after a month-long break on 11th January. The Week 12 fixtures are Al Kharaitiyat vs Umm Salal (Al Khor Stadium, 18:30) on Thursday, Al Ahli vs Al Gharafa (Al Ahli Stadium, 16:20), Al Sailiya vs Al Arabi (Al Ahli Stadium, 18:30) on Friday, Al Rayyan vs Al Khor (Al Sadd Stadium, 16:20), Al Sadd vs Al Markhiya (Al Sadd Stadium, 18:30) and Qatar SC vs Al Duhail (Qatar SC Stadium, 18:30) on Saturday.
All 12 clubs made full use of the winter break by enhancing their preparations and most of them played friendlies either against each other or against top overseas sides.
Al Duhail, leading the standings with 29 points, would be keen to maintain their unbeaten run in the league’s second phase as well. They look overwhelming favourites when they face Qatar SC, placed 11th on eight points.
Al Duhail received a shot in the arm going into the second phase when Youssef Msakni and Almoez Ali were adjudged the best players by ratings in overall (local and foreign professionals) and Under-23 category respectively after the first phase of action by the QNB Stars League’s football analysis and statistics provider STATS company.
Msakni emerged on top ahead of Al Sailiya’s Wagner Ribeiro and team-mate Youssef El Arabi in that order, while Almoez left behind Al Sadd’s Salem Al Hajri and Al Gharafa’s Amro Seraj.
The ratings were done based on data, such as the number of matches and minutes played by the players, goals scored, passes made and assists given.
Second-placed Al Sadd (27 points) play host to bottom side Al Markhiya (seven points). The Wolves should have it easy and their Portuguese coach Jesualdo Ferreira would hope their ace striker Baghdad Bounedjah recovers from his injury sooner rather than later as they bid for a 14th league title.
Al Rayyan, two points behind Al Sadd, take on Al Khor, eighth with 10 points.
Al Rayyan can go into the match with renewed vigour after the team management confirmed that coach Michael Laudrup would see out his contract till the end of this season.
Al Khor have been showing improvement in their performance ever since Tunisian coach Nassif Al Bayawi took over from Frenchman Laurent Banide.
Both Al Khor and fourth-placed Al Sailiya (19 points) had training camps at the Aspire Zone as part of their preparations for the second phase. The sessions aimed to further improve the players’ performance on the physical and technical fronts. It was also designed to enhance their mental fitness in a positive atmosphere.
Al Sailiya will play host to Al Arabi, who are ninth with nine points.
Fifth-placed Umm Salal (16 points) would target nothing less than a victory when they play Al Kharaitiyat, 10th with nine points.
Of all the matches in the 12th round, the clash between Al Ahli and Al Gharafa, both mid-table sides, will hog the limelight. Al Ahli occupy the sixth spot with 14 points, followed by Al Gharafa on 11.