By Sports Reporter/Doha
The new QNB Stars League season is upon us and Qatar SC will be hoping that they can lift their fortunes this time around. Having finished 10th last season, Qatar SC have gone all out to improve their performance by roping in many players.
On the eve of their season-opener against Al Gharafa at the Al Sadd stadium today, Qatar SC unveiled their new overseas players – Hussein Ali, Alaeddin al-Dali, Ammar Hamsan and Dodo. The Kings have also recruited Qatari players Rami Fayez and Ahmed Moeen. All six have been hired for one season.
Qatar SC coach Abdulla Mubarak set out his ambition for the new season, saying he wants to see the club in top four. “My ambition is to put Qatar SC in the top rung of the QNB Stars League. To be among the top four is a difficult target to achieve. For that, we must double our efforts,” Mubarak said.
He expects a tough match against Gharafa and said his team had a short period to prepare for the new season. “The preparatory period was very short. One month was not enough for the players to gear up for the season. However, we could make an elaborate plan for the tournament. We made the best use of our time. We played six friendly games and tried out three different combinations. All players were seen in action and I am so happy that they adapted well,” Mubarak said.
“We have tried to strike the right balance in our squad. We are up against a strong team in the first match. Gharafa had put up a strong performance against CS Sfaxien (Tunisian club) at the Salalah tournament in Oman recently. But we are confident,” he added.
Al Gharafa, who just about managed to finish fourth last season and thereby qualified for the Qatar Cup, have Frenchman Christian Gourcuff at the helm. He replaced Turk Bulent Uygun, who joined them midway through last season and helped the Cheetahs go up from the seventh position, where the team stood at the end of first phase.
Al Gharafa have the likes of Dutch attacking midfielder Wesley Sneijder, Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi and Slovakian midfielder Vladimir Weiss, who missed most of last season with an injury. Gourcuff who will be hoping the trio will deliver as he makes his tactical plans around the trio.
Gourcuff said: “All teams are staying focused, particularly at the beginning of the new season. And we are no different. We are concentrating much on our game against Qatar SC. We had a very good training camp in the Netherlands ahead of the start of the new season. And then, we played in a tournament in Salalah, Oman. We want to see how we can improve on our game further”
In the day’s other two matches, Al Arabi will open their campaign against Al Khor, while Al Sailiya host Umm Salal.
Al Arabi overcame first-phase slump and finished a creditable seventh last season. The Dream Team have recruited three new professionals — Iraqi Ahmed Ibrahim, Brazilian Mailson de Farias and Colombian Franco.
Arabi coach Luka Bonacic hoped that new players will improve the team’s fortunes and said many changes in the squad was not in his control.
“New season brings something new. We made many changes last season, with seven or eight players being replaced. We have made some changes this time as well. But then, many changes have been made at Al Arabi over the past few seasons. Players leaving the club is not under my control. It is up to the team management,” said Bonacic.
Meanwhile, Al Khor are under a new coach — Tunisian Adel Sellimi who replaced compatriot Nassif al-Bayawi when the latter left for Al Kharaitiyat. They will rely on Iraqis Ahmed Yasin and Rebin Sulaka, as well as Brazil’s Diego Oksta and Gabon’s Ulysse Nadong to deliver the goods.
The clash between Al Sailiya and Umm Salal will evoke keen interest among the fans. Al Sailiya were in the fourth place for most part of last season, but were pushed behind by Umm Salal in the fight for the fifth spot. In fact, The Orange Fortress were very much in the race for the fourth position, which they lost to Al Gharafa.
Al Sailiya retained the services of Algerian Nadir Belhadj and signed Moroccan striker Rachid Tiberkanine from Al Kharaitiyat. Umm Salal have kept Ivorian Yannick Sagbo, Syrian Mahmoud Mawas and Moroccan Adel Rhaili on their roster while adding Nigerian striker Christian Osaguona.
5:35pm: Al Gharafa vs Qatar SC at Al Sadd stadium; Al Arabi vs Al Khor at Khalifa International stadium
7:45pm: Al Sailiya vs Umm Salal at Khalifa International Stadium
5:35pm: Al Kharaitiyat vs Al Sadd at Khalifa International stadium; Al Shahania vs Al Duhail at Khalifa International stadium
7:45pm: Al Rayyan vs Al Ahli at Al Sadd stadium
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