The QNB Stars League’s Round 6 witnessed some packed action over Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The ‘Qatar Clasico’ featuring Al Sadd and Al Rayyan highlighted the week’s matches and it did rise to the occasion, with both teams fighting it out, cheered on by a huge crowd.
In the end, Al Rayyan prevailed by a 2-1 margin, thus ending their winless run against arch-rivals Al Sadd in recent times. The Lions had lost to the Wolves in both phases of the league and also in the Qatar Cup and Emir’s Cup final last season. Al Rayyan’s more passionate fans finally had something to celebrate.
Al Sadd dominated the first half and took an early lead, but Al Rayyan made a brilliant comeback and struck twice in the second session. It was also a tactical victory for Dane Michael Laudrup over his Al Sadd counterpart Jesualdo Ferreira from Portugal.
Laudrup had admitted that his players had to be really strong on the field to contain Al Sadd. And extra strong were Al Rayyan wards, who successfully executed their master’s game plan. Xavi & Co’s fading influence in the second half, Algerian attacking midfielder Jugurtha Hamroun taking the field only in the 57th minute and the absence of Boualem Khoukhi with an injury did not help Al Sadd’s cause either.
Al Duhail dropping points, the first time as Al Sadd, after being held 1-1 by Al Gharafa and minnows Al Markhiya, with Yousef Adam back at the helm, drawing goalless with Al Kharaitiyat were the other surprises of Round 6.
Al Gharafa put up a much-improved performance against Al Duhail than in their big loss to Al Kharaitiyat in the previous round. Moroccan forward Yousef El Arabi was on target again, taking his tally to 11 goals on top of the scorers’ list, but Al Gharafa hit back through Amro Abdullfattah Seraj.
The first seven positions in the standings, however, remained the same. Al Duhail are on top with 16 points, followed by Al Sadd and Al Rayyan who both have 15, but better goal difference favouring the former. Umm Salal (13), Al Sailiya (12), Al Gharafa (six) and Al Kharaitiyat (five) are in the next positions in that order.
Al Markhiya climbed one place from bottom, now occupied by Qatar SC whose poor run continued after their 1-5 loss to Al Sailiya.
As expected, Umm Salal defeated Al Khor by a solitary goal, while Al Arabi gave their Tunisian coach Qais Yaakoubi a lifeline by playing out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Al Ahli. Al Arabi, who twice took the lead but failed to close the game after the second such occasion, and Al Ahli moved up by one position, to 10th and eighth respectively.