Spotlight on new faces as Ooredoo Cup kicks off on Friday
Al Sadd, missing many top players, will take on Al Wakrah in the opening game.
Lesser lights and new faces will get an opportunity to shine when the Ooredoo Cup kicks off on Friday with a clash between Al Sadd and Al Wakrah at the Al Ahli Stadium.
The 12 teams of the Qatar Stars League will vie for honours in a league-cum-knockout tournament, but with Qatar playing in the Asian Cup/World Cup qualifying contest, many top players will be missing from the first weekend’s action on Friday and Saturday.
Sadd will be affected the most as eight of their players are in the national squad. Their main striker Baghdad Bounedjah is also away, playing for his country Algeria in a friendly, while playmaker Nam Tae-Hee is also on national duty with South Korea.
- Group A
- Al Sadd, Al Shahania, Al Ahli, Umm Salal, Al Rayyan, Al Wakrah.
- Duhail SC, Al Khor, Al Sailiya, Qatar SC, Al Arabi, Al Gharafa.
As such, a severely depleted team will represent the QSL champions against Wakrah. The teams had met in the first round of the QSL back in August and Sadd had posted a 4-1 win in a hard-fought encounter.
Wakrah would be looking to prey on a weakened opposition in the Group A game on Friday, especially with Sadd a bit low on morale, after successive losses to Al Hilal in the AFC Champions League and to Al Rayyan in the QSL.
Rayyan are also in Group A, along with Al Shahania, Al Ahli and Umm Salal. In other matches on the opening day, Al Ahli play Umm Salal and Al Shahania take on Rayyan.
Al Gharafa, champions in the last two editions, will be eyeing a hat-trick this time. In Group B, their rivals are Duhail SC, Al Khor, Al Sailiya, Qatar SC and Al Arabi.
Gharafa open against Duhail on Saturday. Duhail are the QSL leaders at present with an unbeaten record while Gharafa are fifth.
Saturday’s other matches are Al Khor vs Al Arabi and Al Sailiya vs Qatar Sports Club.