Bounedjah begins goal fest in his favourite hunting ground
Al Sadd’s Algerian striker is on song and it is bad news for his rivals.
The Qatar Stars League is his favourite stage. No goal seems too far for him, no defence too strong. For Baghdad Bounedjah, it is all about being there at the right place at the right time.
It is the most vital quality for a striker and Al Sadd’s feared hit man seems to possess that in good measure, at least when it comes to the QSL.
Last season, he was the top scorer with an amazing tally of 39 goals as Sadd regained the QSL title, their 14th success in the top division.
On Saturday, the 27-year-old Algerian renewed his quest for glory yet again, netting three goals in Sadd’s 7-1 thumping of Al Shahania.
The spotlight on the night, understandably, was on Hassan Al Haydos for netting his 100th goal for Sadd, but Bounedjah was the man who ripped open the Shahania defence and left the rivals bleeding. Sadd benefitted immensely, taking the top spot on the league table with their second win on the trot.
A year ago, Bounedjah had started off in a similar fashion, scoring three goals as Sadd routed Al Khairatiyat 6-0 in their opening match. This time, he missed Sadd’s first game, against Al Wakrah, due to suspension. But the ‘hungry tiger’ that he is, Bounedjah gave enough indications that he will be ready to pounce, with his display on Saturday.
Beyond the numbers, Bounedjah’s partnership with Akram Afif was a pleasing sight at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium. True, Shahania did not have a strong defence to boast off, but it still needed to be opened up and Afif did that. His cross from the left was a measured one and Bounedjah made full use of his 6-foot one-inch height to head in the first goal.
The second goal also was a tribute to Afif’s vision as he moved to the centre and found Bounedjah with a fine pass, allowing the Algerian to use his physical strength to barge into the penalty area and slot the ball home. He added one more goal before Sadd took their feet off the pedal.
The defending champions are the only team to have won both their matches so far. As their coach Xavi Hernandez put it, it is a long journey. The coach was delighted with his team’s performance.
“We’re still at the start of the season. We’re on top, but it’s just the beginning and we must continue in order to reach our objectives,” he said.
For Xavi, it will be a balancing act, with national commitments taking the players away next week, before they come back for the return fixture against Al Nassr in the AFC Champions League quarterfinal on September 16.
Qatar play two matches in between, against Afghanistan on September 5 and India on September 10, in the combined World Cup/Asian Cup qualifying round.
Bounedjah too will be away, with Algeria calling him up for friendly internationals. He had a memorable outing with his national team in July, striking the winning goal in the African Nations Cup final against Senegal.
A penalty miss in the quarterfinal against Ivory Coast had left him in tears, before elation took over in the title clash. Right now, he is all smiles, for the goals are flowing again.