Al Duhail sealed the 2017-18 season QNB Stars League title with a 5-0 victory over Al Kharaitiyat in Week 20, having taken an unassailable lead after nearest challengers Al Sadd lost 1-2 to Umm Salal.
But Duhail showed no let-up and defeated Al Markhiya 4-2 in Week 21 to increase their points to 57 ahead of the final round of matches, where they will take on Al Sailiya and be crowned in front of home fans. The Red Knights’ triumph was so special that they achieved it with an unbeaten record, the only team to do so thus far this season. They won 18 matches and drew three.
Al Duhail have a fierce frontline and have scored 81 goals, the most by any team. Al Sadd come next with 59. And their players, Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi (26) and Tunisian midfielder Youssef Msakny (25) are competing for the top-scorer award. They also have the second-best defence as they have conceded only 25 goals, one more than the number of goals against Al Sadd.
Al Duhail had stability in terms of the presence of professional players as except Chico Flores, who was replaced by Lucas Mendes, all other players —Msakny, El Arabi and Nam Tae-Hee — stayed. Besides, they have an outstanding array of Qatari players such as Karim Boudiaf, Almoez Ali, Bassam al-Rawi, Ismail Mohamed, Luiz Martin, Mohamed Moussa and Sultan al-Berik.
Al Duhail thus achieved their sixth Qatar League title and first after they were formed by merging Lekhwiya with El Jaish. Four of them (2010-11, 2011-12, 2016-17 and 2017-18) have come when Algerian Djamel Belmadi was at the helm. They had also triumphed under Eric Gerets (2013-14) and current Al Rayyan coach Michael Laudrup (2014-15).
Al Duhail’s ambitions do not stop there. They have set their eyes firmly on winning Qatar Cup, HH The Emir’s Cup and AFC Champions League. They have players with great potential, both youngsters and experienced ones, to deliver the goods.
Al Duhail are also the only side to have won the first four games so far in the AFC Champions League group stage, thereby becoming the first team to qualify for the Round of 16 from Group B. They are well on course to go further in Asia’s premier competition for clubs. (qsl.com.qa)
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