The Qatar Stars League Management announced the match schedule of the first leg of the 2017/2018 season which will commence on the 15th of September 2017. This year there will be 12 teams participating following the decision to reduce the number of QSL teams from 14 to 12.
Highlights from the first weekend of QSL action will see a season opener on Friday the 15th of September between old rivals Al Gharafa and Al Ahli, which is set for a 18:00 KO at Thani Bin Jassim stadium (Al Gharafa stadium). Whilst newly formed Al Duhail will begin their season with a home encounter against newly promoted Qatar SC.
On Saturday, QSL new boys Al Markhiya take on Al Sadd at Grand Hamad Stadium (Al Arabi) whilst the QSL weekend comes to an end when Al Khor take on former QSL champions Al Rayyan at Al Khor stadium.
The announcement was made in coordination with all the stakeholders (the partners, National Teams Department, official host broadcaster) taking into consideration all the international matches and competitions to be held in Qatar during the first leg.
The first leg will witness two stoppages due to the commitments of the Qatar National Team, the first of which will be for two weeks following Round 3, while the second stoppage will be for ten days following Round 7.
A number of considerations have been taken into account when drafting the first leg match schedule, such as dividing the league teams into three groups based upon the general ranking of the previous sports season 2016/2017.
First group: Al Duhail, Al Sadd, Al Rayyan and Al Gharafa
Second group: Umm Salal, Al Kharaitiyat, Al Sailiya and Al Arabi
Third group: Al Ahli, Al Khor, Al Markhiya and Qatar SC (both returning from the second division league.)
The division also aims at creating a balance in the teams' matches over the course of the rounds. This will be achieved through the rotation of opponents representing the three different groups.
In the summer time, the first match will be played around 20 minutes after the Maghrib (sunset) call to prayer. While in the winter time, the first half will be aimed to be completed before the Maghrib call to prayer in order to give the opportunity to perform the prayer on time. This also means that there will be a change in the kick-off timing for the first match in accordance with the Maghrib call to prayer from one round to another.
There was also coordination with the Ministry of Culture & Sports to perform regular maintenance of the match venues.
Speaking of which, due to the maintenance works, Qatar SC won’t be able to host their matches in the first seven rounds of the league, noting that the maintenance work will be completed at the Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium (Qatar SC) by the mid of November. Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium (Al Duhail) will host the Qatar SC fixtures during the above-mentioned period.
The other venues include:
- Hamad Bin Khalifa Stadium (Al Ahli Sports Club) will host the fixtures of both Al Ahli and Al Sailiya.
- Grand Hamad Stadium (Al Arabi Sports Club) will host the fixtures of both Al Arabi and Al Markhiya.
- Thani Bin Jassim Stadium (Al Gharafa Sports Club) will host the fixtures of both Al Gharafa and Umm Salal.
- Al Khor SC Stadium (Al Khor Sports Club) will host the fixtures of both Al Khor and Al Kharaitiyat.
- Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium (Al Sadd Sports Club) will host the fixtures of both Al Sadd and Al Rayyan.
In addition to Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Stadium (Al Wakrah Sports Club), which was approved as a back-up venue.