By Sports Reporter/Doha
QNB Stars League champions Al Duhail are determined to win the Qatar Cup and Emir Cup to add to their impressive collection of trophies, their star striker Youssef El Arabi has said.
Moroccan El Arabi was top scorer in the league with a whopping 26 goals, with his teammate Youssef Msakni second with 25 and Al Rayyan’s Abderrrazaq Hamdallah third with 18.
El Arabi, who was also the highest scorer in the 2016-2017 season with 24 goals, has emerged the most feared player on the domestic scene over the past three years.
He and Msakni accounted for 51 of the 86 goals scored by Al Duhail in 22 matches of the QNB Stars League together this season, proving a nightmare for rival defenders. Apart from his individual achievements, El Arabi has also contributed to his team’s two successive league triumphs as he was a part of last season’s triumphant Lekhwiya who were merged with El Jaish and relaunched at the start of this season as Al Duhail.
El Arabi did not play in Al Duhail’s final-round match against Al Sailiya, which they won 5-2, due to an injury. Msakni took the field in the second half, but could not score and limped off the field after aggravating a knee injury. The Tunisian attacking midfielder has been ruled out for six months and will also miss the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“I’m very happy that we won the title with an unbeaten record. I’m also happy that I could be the top scorer for the second successive season. This would motivate me to perform well in future,” said El Arabi, adding he wanted to win every title on offer this season as Al Duhail are in top form.
“We want to win all titles — the Qatar Cup, Emir’s Cup and AFC Champions League. The team is very strong this season as you can see from the results. We’ve big players and we’re ready to compete for all titles on offer this year,” he said.
The 31-year old, who played for long at Spanish club Granada, termed his rivalry with Msakni a healthy one.
“My rivalry with captain Msakni was a very positive one and it was good for the team. I wanted to win the top-scorer award, but it was good that I was challenged by Msakni till the end,” El Arabi said.
Meanwhile, the Emir Cup kicks off today with second division teams Muaither and Al Shamal aiming to progress to the last 16. The tournament’s official draw will only take place tomorrow.
The Emir Cup offers a chance to clubs from the lower divisions to compete with the top guns and cause an upset or two, although it’s rare for them to actually win the tournament.
Muaither coach Philippe Burle said playing the Emir Cup would be a great experience for his players.
“We are looking forward to the tournament. Our aim is to progress as far as possible although it will be a difficult task,” said Birol, whose team were relegated from the Qatar Stars League last season.
“We will put out best foot forward against Al Shamal and I am sure the match will be a tough one,” he added.
Al Shamal captain Walid Muhyiddin said his team will give their all to progress.
“Al Shamal and Muaither know each other very well. We have played each other in the second division and both teams will be determined to make an impression.”
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