Football Clubs are continuing their preparations ahead of the resumption of 2019-20 QNB Stars League, with Week 18 matches starting on July 24.
The tournament, which had a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will restart as per the general plan and protocol for the remaining five rounds. Teams are fighting to occupy the top positions, improve their rankings and avoid the ignominy of relegation.
Second-placed Al Rayyan are gearing up for the remainder of the season under Uruguayan coach Diego Aguirre, hoping to wipe out the four-point deficit on leaders Al Duhail when the season resumes.
The Lions will play Qatar SC in Week 18 at the Al Sadd Stadium on July 24, with the kick-off at 7pm.
With 11 wins, five draws and one defeat against their name, Al Rayyan have 38 points. A positive goal difference of 20 (34 goals for and 14 against), means Rayyan have the highest goal difference so far in the league, with Al Duhail next at 19, and third-placed Al Sadd at 18.
Al Rayyan had beaten reigning champions Al Sadd 1-0 in the high-profile Qatar Clasico in Week 17 on March 7 before the long break. Franck Kom scored the all-important goal. The victory also helped Al Rayyan move six points clear away from closest challengers Al Sadd.
Following their first coronavirus test, held as per the protocol developed by the QSL in co-ordination with club authorities and approved by the Ministry of Public Health, Al Rayyan squad members entered their team hotel and got engaged in training.
Their second coronavirus test was held on June 28 after which the players as well as technical and administrative staff signed a pledge to abide by the protocol for leaving team hotel for home quarantine.
There have been no changes in terms of the team’s foreign professional players, as Algerian Yacine Brahimi, Ivorian Johan Boli, Argentinian Gabriel Mercado, Cameroonian Franck Kom and South Korean Lee Jae-Ik are continuing.
Regarding local professional players, Al Rayyan announced the recruitment of Hamed Ismail from Al Sadd till the end of this season.
Despite the continuation of five professionals, Al Rayyan will miss the services of key player Rodrigo Tabata, whose contract with them has ended.
They will also depend on the rest of the stars, most notably Sebastian Soria, Khaled Muftah, Mohamed Alaaeldin, Mohamed Juma, Abdulrahman al-Harazi, Mowafaq Awad, Ahmed Abdelmaqsoud and goalkeeper Fahd Younis.
Besides intense training, Al Rayyan are readying for the resumption of action by playing friendlies. They beat Al Ahli 2-1 in one such game.
Al Rayyan’s other remaining matches in the QNB Stars League are against Al Arabi (Week 19), Al Sailiya (Week 20), Al Shahania (Week 21) and Al Wakrah (Week 22).
Al Gharafa: Tough task on hand
With an eye on a Qatar Cup and AFC Champions League spot, Al Gharafa will be looking to hold on to their top-four spot when the QNB Stars League season resumes on July 24.
Under the watchful eyes of Serbian coach Slavisa Jokanovic, Al Gharafa will play Al Arabi in Week 18 at the Al Janoub Stadium on July 24, with the kick-off at 4:45pm.
Fourth in the standings behind Al Duhail, Al Rayyan and Al Sadd, Al Gharafa have 28 points. The Cheetahs have eight wins, four draws and five defeats against their name. Their goal difference is +5 (29 goals for and 24 against).
Al Gharafa had beaten Al Wakrah 2-1 in Week 17 on March 5 before the long break.
Jokanovic’s wards are only four points adrift of reigning champions Al Sadd. They also have four points more than closest challengers and fifth-placed side Al Arabi, and will be keen to finish among the top four.
Following their first coronavirus test, held as per the protocol developed by the QSL in co-ordination with club authorities and approved by the Ministry of Public Health, Al Gharafa squad members entered their team hotel and got engaged in training.
After their second coronavirus test, the players as well as technical and administrative staff signed a pledge to abide by the protocol for leaving team hotel for home quarantine.
Besides intense training, Al Gharafa are readying for the resumption of action by playing friendlies. They have been bolstered by the presence of Qatar internationals Yousef Hassan, Hammam Ahmed, Almahdi Ali, Muad Hassan and Ahmed Alaaeldin, who are back in their fold after the conclusion of national team’s camp.
Al Gharafa’s other remaining matches in the QNB Stars League are against Al Duhail (Week 19), Al Khor (Week 20), Umm Salal (Week 21) and Al Sadd (Week 22).
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