QSL Cup off to a great start, second round promises to be more exciting
The QSL Cup’s first round, held on Tuesday and Wednesday, ended with Qatar SC leading Group A on goal difference ahead of Al Kharaitiyat. Al Gharafa also had three points, but were pushed to the third position. Both Al Rayyan and Al Markhiya are on top of Group B following their wins over Al Ahli and Al Sadd respectively.
Qatar SC registered a big 5-2 victory over Al Duhail, while Al Kharaitiyat defeated Al Sailiya 3-1. Al Gharafa’s 2-1 win came against Al Khor.
In Group B, Al Rayyan and Al Markhiya are followed by Al Arabi and Umm Salal, each having one point. Al Ahly and Al Sadd failed to open their account.
The fixtures saw most teams fielding Under-23 players with an aim of providing youngsters with opportunities, so they can gradually graduate to their first teams. Some sides, struggling to gain ground after the QNB Stars League’s first three rounds, found the tournament as a perfect platform to prepare the players.
Teams that released players for national duty (Russia World Cup qualifiers and international friendlies) gave chances to promising youngsters unmindful of results. The Al Duhail vs Qatar SC match saw many promising faces taking the field for both sides.
Al Duhail played with many age-group players and under their Under-23 coach Majid Bougarra. Qatar SC coach Gabriel Calderon also fielded juniors and effected substitutions, but later relied on key players and professionals after Al Duhail took the lead in the first half. The move paid off as they cruised to a big victory.
The game between Al Gharafa and Al Khor also featured some youngsters. Same was the case in the Al Kharaitiyat vs Al Sailiya tie.
Contrary to the trend, Al Markhiya unleashed most of their key players as they had a point to prove against Al Sadd, who had many juniors in their ranks. Al Markhiya, who won 2-0, had got the better of Al Sadd in the very first round of QNB Stars League. However, that result was overturned and full points were awarded to Al Sadd, for the rivals fielded an ineligible player. It was Al Markhiya’s first match under Egyptian coach Ayman Mansour, after parting ways with Youssef Adam.
Meanwhile, Al Rayyan fielded a mix of youth and experience against Al Ahli, and that reflected on their 2-0 win.
Overall, the competition had a highly-promising start and the second round, to be held on Sunday and Monday, is sure to witness more exciting action. Al Khor vs Al Kharaitiyat, Qatar SC vs Al Sailiya and Al Duhail vs Al Gharafa are the match-ups in Group A, while Group B will witness Al Ahli-Umm Salal, Al Markhiya-Al Arabi and Al Sadd-Al Rayyan contests.
QSL Cup second-round fixtures:
Sunday, 08 Oct 2017
Al Khor vs Al Kharaitiyat – 17:35 – Thani bin Jassem Stadium
QSC vs Al Sailiyah – 19:45 – Saoud bin Abdelrahman Stadium
Al Duhail vs Al Gharafa – 19:45 – Al Khor Stadium
Monday, 09 Oct 2017
Al Ahli vs Umm Salal – 17:35 – Saoud bin Abdelrahman Stadium
Al Markhiya vs Al Arabi – 17:35 – Al Shamal Stadium
Thursday, 12 Oct 2017
Al Sadd vs Al Rayyan – 17:35 – Al Khor Stadium