QNB Stars League — Week 21 Preview
The QNB Stars League Week 21 fixtures are Al Arabi vs Al Gharafa (Al Arabi Stadium), Al Rayyan vs Umm Salal (Qatar SC Stadium), Al Kharaitiyat vs Qatar SC (Al Khor Stadium), Al Sadd vs Al Khor (Al Sadd Stadium), Al Markhiya vs Al Duhail (Al Gharafa Stadium) and Al Ahli vs Al Sailiya (Al Ahli Stadium). All matches will kick off simultaneously at 18:05 on Saturday, 17th March.
In order to ensure equal advantage for all teams, the last two weeks’ fixtures will be played on same dates with simultaneous kick-offs.
Al Duhail already won the championship last week with two more rounds of matches to go by taking an unassailable lead over second-placed Al Sadd. The Red Knights blanked Al Kharaitiyat 5-0 to be on 54 points compared to the 46 by Al Sadd, who lost 1-2 to Umm Salal.
“I am indeed very happy with my team’s show. Every player played his part. They had the confidence and they never slackened,” Belmadi said after the triumph. “We knew Al Sadd were very close on our heels, but when we beat them in Week 19, we were pretty much certain the title was ours for the taking.”
Al Duhail face Al Markhiya, while Al Sadd meet Al Khor. However, the battle will be more intense between the bottom sides.
Al Markhiya defeated Al Ahli 2-0, whereas Al Khor lost to Qatar SC by the same margin in Week 20.
Al Markhiya (bottom with 12 points) face the prospects of relegation along with Al Kharaitiyat (11th, 13 points), while Al Khor are relatively safe with 18 points.
Meanwhile, Al Shahania won promotion to next season’s QNB Stars League after they won the Second Division last week.
Al Markhiya were done in by two administrative decisions that cost them six points.
The bottom-placed team will directly be relegated to the Second Division, while the 11th-placed side will go into a play-off against Second Division runners-up.
So Al Markhiya and Al Kharaitiyat, who face Qatar SC challenge, will be fighting for their lives.
Al Arabi host Al Gharafa in the marquee match, with the former being on a high following three consecutive wins and the latter trying hard to stay in the fourth position.
Umm Salal have 31 points, one less than Al Gharafa, and are seeking to break into the top four when they clash with Al Rayyan, who are assured of the third place.
Al Ahli host Al Sailiya in the other match.