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Big guns look to pounce as QSL nears a break

Duhail eye chance to consolidate position at the top of the table as they meet Al Khor in tenth round clash.
Al Gharafa’s Sofiane Hanni Has Struck Six Goals So Far In This Season’s Qatar Stars League
Al Gharafa’s Sofiane Hanni has struck six goals so far in this season’s Qatar Stars League. Photo: QSL Media

Duhail Sports Club will be at the forefront of teams looking to pounce on weaker opposition as the Qatar Stars League enters the tenth round this weekend.

With the calendar dotted with international fixtures in the next one and a half months, QSL will take a long break after the tenth round. As such, the teams would be extra keen to take home positive results from the weekend games.

The leading sides seem to have an easy task, at least on paper. Duhail, the unbeaten leaders, take on Al Khor on Friday while second-placed Al Rayyan play bottom side Al Shahania on Thursday. Defending champions Al Sadd, meanwhile, will face Qatar SC to wind up the action on Saturday.

Duhail notched an important win in their quest to regain the title when they drubbed Sadd 4-1 last week. Rui Faria’s men have been improving every week and that fact is reflected in their position on the table. With 23 points, they are two points ahead of Rayyan.

The Red Knights should be able to take Khor in their stride. Omar Najhi’s team showed promise at the beginning but has faded fast to be 10th with just five points from eight games. Duhail, in red-hot form, will look to add three more points to their kitty in the game at the Khor Stadium.

Like Duhail, Rayyan too are on a six-game winning spree. Diego Aguirre’s men have played some attractive football too, with Yacine Brahimi and Rodrigo Tabata in fine form. But Tabata suffered an injury in the last game and will miss the Shahania tie.

“We’ll miss Tabata, but we’ve another option in Sebastian Soria and we can count on him,” said Aguirre. “We’ve the ambition to be table toppers, so results are very important,” he said. Shahania, without a win in nine games, may just be the opposition Rayyan need to push their case.

Among the top teams, no side would be keener than Sadd to taste a win this weekend. The defending champions have struggled defensively, letting in a bagful of goals in the last few matches.

The defeat to Duhail last week was also a bitter one for the Wolves, who are now in fourth spot. Xavi Hernandez had demanded a better show from his players after the loss to Duhail and Qatar SC.

Al Arabi, who have not tasted victory in the last three matches, take on Al Sailiya on Thursday. Heimier Hallgrimsson’s men, placed fifth, have been on a slide ever since the departure of Aaron Gunnarson due to injury and they desperately need a win to begin a turnaround.

Al Gharafa would also relish a meeting against Umm Salal, the team on the penultimate rung. Gharafa are now third with 17 points while Umm Salal have just five points, thanks to a shoddy performance. With Aziz Ben Askar taking charge as coach, Umm Salal would hope to spoil Gharafa’s plans.