By Sports Reporter/Doha
Buoyed by their first victory of the season, Al Arabi will look to keep the momentum going when they take on Al Wakrah in the QNB Stars League at the Qatar SC Stadium today.
Arabi were languishing at 11th in the table before last week’s 2-1 win over Umm Salal. They are now seventh in the standings and their coach Heimir Hallgrimsson says their first win of the season has given them a much needed boost. But injuries to key players such as Mohamed Salah El Neel, Hamdi Harbaoui, Sebastian Soria and Mahdi Torabi will make it a tricky contest for Arabi against Wakrah.
“Winning the last match will give us a boost against Wakrah,” said Hallgrimsson yesterday. “The team’s preparations for the Wakrah match was good. They are a good team that possesses the ball well. They have outstanding players, so we must have 11 players on the field ready to fight for the team. We want to win the match and we have to do everything we can to win the match, but we also have to be smart in our choice,” he added.
Hallgrimsson confirmed few players will be missing from the line-up today, including influential winger El Neel, who is out for six weeks. “We have more than one player who will be absent from the Al Wakrah match, such as Mohamed Salah El Neel, who will be absent for six weeks, in addition to Hamdi Harbaoui, Sebastian Soria and Mahdi Torabi, and we do not know the period of their absence so far,” said Hallgrimsson.
Wakrah, on the other hand, went down from third to sixth place in the standings after their 0-1 loss to Al Rayyan last week as they remained on six points. Wakrah had stunned holders Al Duhail in Week 2, with The Blue Wave under Spaniard Marquez Lopez carrying on from where they left last season, where they finished sixth.
Lopez said short turnaround between matches has made it difficult for his side to prepare. “We have prepared in the best possible way under the current circumstances. We only had two days to train and, before that, two days of recovery. Of course, this is not an easy job. We stopped for a month and now we play two games in five days, which is not easy,” he said.
In another match today, Qatar SC host Umm Salal. Qatar SC are in 10th position with three points that they collected from their victory over last season’s runners-up Al Rayyan in Week 3.
The Kings, coached by former Qatar international midfielder Younis Ali, went down fighting 1-2 to reigning champions Al Duhail last week, a result that saw them slip by two places in the table. They had previously lost 0-2 to Al Gharafa and 1-2 to Al Kharaitiyat.
After four rounds of action, Umm Salal stay at the rock bottom of the table with only one point which they earned from their goalless draw with Al Khor in Week 2. The Orange Fortress had lost 0-3 to Al Duhail in their opener and then 0-2 to Al Wakrah in Week 3 and 1-2 to Al Arabi last week.
Umm Salal, under the tutelage of their former player Aziz Ben Askar from Morocco, will be keen not to leave it late this time, like they did last season when they managed to finish 10th after being on the brink of relegation.
Meanwhile, a Super Sunday is in store as surprise leaders Al Ahli face Al Sadd, before reigning champions Al Duhail take on Al Rayyan.
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