Early fare indicates exciting days ahead
Absorbing games, excellent goals mark first week's action in Qatar Stars League.
‘No fear’ seems to be the mantra of the new Qatar Stars League season. Reputations have no relevance in present times, if evidence in the first week’s matches are any indication.
Al Sadd, the defending champions, occupy the top position, followed by Al Gharafa, Al Arabi and Duhail SC, all these teams having won their first-round matches. But it has not been easy for them, and it has not been easy for the teams just below them on the table.
The expressions on the benches have made for interesting viewing in the three days gone by. Creased foreheads were the norm even among the fancied teams as they were given a run for their money.
Sadd and Duhail sweated it out to earn three points against Al Wakrah and Qatar Sports Club respectively. Al Gharafa and Al Arabi too took time to unlock the puzzle presented by their opponents – Al Shahania and Al Ahli.
A positive attitude has been the common factor powering the unfancied teams forward. Al Rayyan were the latest to realise the lurking danger when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Umm Salal on Friday night at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.
Umm Salal showed tactical awareness by tightening their defence after conceding two soft goals in the first half. Rayyan hardly had any leeway in the second half and their coach Diego Aguirre conceded that his team had to improve.
“Sometimes we played well, at other times they were better,” said Aguirre, with hardly a hint of a smile. “We’ve many new players in our team and we need time to settle down as a combination. We’ll try to improve in the coming matches,” he said.
Umm Salal’s Raul Caneda was a happy man. “It’s a good result for us,” he said, praising his team for an excellent display. After a ninth place finish last season, Umm Salal have hopes of a better position this time and on Thursday’s indication, that is very much a possibility.
“We made mistakes in the first half but I told my players to focus on defence and go for counter-attacks in the second half. They did just that.”
In Mahmoud Kamal Al Mawas, Umm Salal had a striker cut out for the job. His speed and control breached Al Rayyan’s defence twice, with killer finishes highlighting the day’s play.
While many easy chances have been missed across the six matches so far, there have been some fine goals too, making the fare very much enjoyable. Hernan Perez’s goal for Al Ahli in their 1-3 defeat against Al Arabi was one such strike, as he moved in from the left and unleashed a lovely curling shot into the goal from just inside the penalty area. There has been variety too on offer, with a couple of thunderous headers, clever backheels and long-range efforts dotting the action.
A total of 21 goals have been scored in the first week, a good tally reflecting the attacking methods adopted by the clubs. The early games have set the standard and if the upcoming fixtures can match it, interesting days are in store for QSL.