QSL Cup — First Semifinal Preview
Al Gharafa’s path to the semifinals was smooth and they had an unbeaten run, while Umm Salal had to wait till the fifth and final round to know their fate.
Al Gharafa blanked Al Sailiya 4-0 in the last round to finish on 13 points with four wins and one draw. They thus topped Group A.
Umm Salal too had it easy against Al Markhiya, winning 3-0, but they finished with the same number of points (eight) as Al Ahli, who defeated Al Sadd. The Orange Fortress advanced on better goal difference (+3 as against Al Ahli’s 0).
Umm Salal ended up as Group B runners-up behind Al Rayyan with two wins, as many draws and one defeat.
Al Gharafa will sorely miss Slovakian attacking midfielder Vladimir Weiss, who is out of action for the rest of the season following a surgery done to correct his cruciate ligament knee injury. He was operated upon at Qatar’s orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital Aspetar.
However, the good form of captain Luis Jimenez, Othman Al Yahri, Amro Seraj and Almahdi Ali augur well for Frenchman Jean Fernandez’s side.
Both Al Gharafa and Umm Salal are almost at the same level in the QNB Stars League, occupying seventh and fifth position respectively.
Umm Salal are known to be a fighting unit and that could throw a spanner in the rivals’ works. Egyptian coach Mahmoud Jaber has moulded them well even though they had a slump in the QNB Stars League of late.
They were in the top four in the standings for major part of the league’s first phase before being displaced by Al Sailiya, who stormed into the leading quartet alongside Al Duhail, Al Sadd and Al Rayyan.
Ivorian Yannick Sagbo and Syrian Mahmoud Al Mawas lead their charge, assisted mainly by Rami Fayez, captain Juad Ahnash and Adil Rhaili.