By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Ahli face Al Rayyan in the QNB Stars League today in a clash between teams which are in the top four of the table and also with great history and tradition in Qatar football. Al Ahli are second with 15 points, just a point behind leaders Al Sadd. Last season’s runners-up Al Rayyan are fourth with 10 points.
Ahli coach Nebojsa Jovovic said the prospect of going back to top of the table should motivate his team against Rayyan. “Our good position in the league (second spot) is an incentive for us to provide our best. I invite the fans of the team to come to the stadium and support the players. The atmosphere is great and we need their presence, which will delight the players and I promise them that they will perform well,” said Jovovic yesterday.
The Serbian, though, cautioned his team to be wary against Rayyan, who he said possess high quality. “Rayyan are a team that has high quality and we have good statistics on them. At the same time, we have strengths, including harmony and team spirit among the players. We have to play with all our capabilities in order to achieve a good result against Al Rayyan,” he said.
“We play as a unit in defence, offence and in the middle. And our defence starts with the attackers. In general, we defend as one block and we know that Al Rayyan have high quality as they are not only good in attack, but they are good in all aspects,” Jovovic added.
Meanwhile, Rayyan coach Diego Aguirre said his players should keep their focus. “Rayyan will treat this clash as if we are playing a final, so there is no room for complacency. We must aim for victory in order to approach the summit and we must compete seriously for the win,” he said.
“If Rayyan win, the situation will be very good, but in the event of a loss, things will be difficult, and that is why we know the importance of this match. We are playing a side that is ahead of us on the points table. If we are serious about competing for the league title, we must achieve victory. Everyone was surprised by the level Al Ahli have exhibited this season. They have achieved five wins out of the six matches they have played, which means that it is a confrontation against a strong team and there must be a strong focus on the field,” added Aguirre.
In another match today, Qatar SC host Al Arabi. Qatar SC made a big leap in the last round as they jumped from the bottom of the table to eighth position with six points following their 1-0 victory over Al Wakrah, with new recruit Youcef Belaili netting the winner. Al Arabi, coached by Icelander Heimir Hallgrimsson, are 10th with five points.
“We are in a position where we need to collect a large number of points in the coming weeks and this target starts with our match against Qatar SC. We know very well that it is a difficult match because the opponent is a good side, well organised and strong team tactically,” Hallgrimsson said. “We are missing a number of key players due to injury, but the positive thing is that there are injured players who are improving quickly and we hope to see some new faces against Qatar SC. I commend the club’s medical staff for their efforts to get everyone fit as soon as possible. They are working extremely hard,” he added.
In the day’s third match, Al Sailiya face Al Wakrah at the Al Ahli Stadium. Sailiya and Wakrah had dropped points in Week 6, so both teams, placed in the middle of the table, will be keen to win.
Al Sailiya are sixth with eight points. The Peregrines have two victories to their credit. Sailiya, under the tutelage of Sami Trabelsi, had held last season’s runners-up Al Rayyan to a creditable 1-1 draw in their opener, but lost 1-5 to Al Sadd and 0-2 to Al Ahli. Al Sailiya, who had recently reached the semifinals of 2020-21 season Ooredoo Cup by edging Al Arabi in sudden death, played out a goalless draw with Al Khor in the last round.
Al Wakrah are seventh with seven points. The Blue Wave too had progressed to the semi-finals of season Ooredoo Cup by beating Al Kharaitiyat in tie-breaker recently.
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