Excitement mounts as Qatar Stars League gets set for kick-off
A host of foreign and local players will spice up the action in the premier competition.
A new season of the Qatar Stars League was officially launched on Monday, promising a treat for the football fans of the country in the coming months.
The launch marks the start of an exciting period when the fans will have plenty to choose from, with the national team’s engagements and the FIFA Club World Cup dotting the calendar.
In the build-up, the clubs have been on a hunt for players to strengthen their squads and several new faces will line up in the 12 teams who will battle it out for the top positions beginning from Wednesday.
Among the stars on view will be former South Korean World Cup captain Koo Ja-Cheol and Algerian Adlene Gueidioura – who both will line up for Al Gharafa – Iraqi youngster Mohanad Ali (Duhail) and Moroccan midfielder Abdenasser El Khayati (Qatar Sports Club).
They will be rubbing shoulders with heroes of Qatar’s Asian Cup victory earlier this year, making this season’s league all the more interesting.
Hani Ballan, the CEO of QSL, was confident the interest levels will be up in this edition.
“Many new players, most of them with proven track records, have joined various clubs and, I’m sure it’ll enhance the technical level of the league this time,” he told Inside Qatar.
A few familiar faces have moved on, with Spaniard Xavi Hernandez shifting to the coach’s role for defending champions Al Sadd, Gharafa’s Wesley Sneijder calling it quits and Nigel de Jong switching to Al Shahania from Al Ahli.
Sadd will kick off the league with a match against promoted team Al Wakrah at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Wednesday. Runners-up Duhail SC will face Qatar Sports Club in the second match on the opening day at the Al Janoub Stadium in Wakrah.
The venue was the first among the new World Cup stadiums to be inaugurated, with Duhail defeating Sadd in the Emir’s Cup final back in May. The new stadium and the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium will host matches up till the fifth round while the venues for the remaining rounds have not been announced so far.
The match ball to be used for the league was unveiled at Monday’s function while an app has been developed to provide all details of the league to the fans. It will be available from Wednesday.
The league will enjoy a break after November 9 till December 25. Qatar will play host to the Gulf Cup in between, from November 27 to December 9 while the FIFA Club World Cup will be from December 11 to December 22.
QSL also announced a partnership with mobile operator Ooredoo for the QSL Cup featuring the 12 league teams. The tournament will be called Ooredoo Cup.