The QNB Stars League, resumed after a month-long winter break, saw a marauding Al Duhail narrowly widening the gap with other two title contenders Al Sadd and Al Rayyan following the Week 12 action. In the process, The Red Knights extended their record of being the only unbeaten side so far this season.
Al Duhail have 32 points, four ahead of both Al Sadd and Al Rayyan. Al Sadd retained the second position on better goal difference (+15 against +13).
It was a total collapse by Qatar SC (0-6), after a few positive results ever since Qatari coach Abdullah Mubarak took charge from Gabriel Calderon, against Al Duhail, who had won their first-phase encounter only by a 3-2 margin.
Moroccan spearhead Youssef El Arabi continued his ruthless form to notch up a hat-trick, while captain and Tunisian attacking midfielder Youssef Msakni contributed two goals. Mohammed Mousa was the other scorer. El Arabi and Msakni took their goals tally to 19 and 11 respectively.
Al Sadd sorely missed the services of injured Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah while being held by Al Markhiya goalless.
It was a revenge of sorts for Al Markhiya who gave their all. They had beaten The Wolves in the first phase, but for the overturned result for fielding an ineligible player.
The draw helped The Oryxes move from basement to 11th on better goal difference even though they were tied on eight points with Qatar SC.
Al Rayyan did well even in the absence of their top scorer Abderrazaq Hamdallah as they rode on playmaker Rodrigo Tabata’s two-goal effort.
Al Khor just could not find their footing against Al Rayyan after having a productive camp at the Aspire Zone during the break. The 3-0 victory drew The Lions level with Al Sadd in terms of the number of points collected (28). They would also be delighted that Moroccan midfielder Mohsine Moutaouali finally came good on the score sheet, having netted their opening goal.
Al Sailiya had a week to forget as they were held 1-1 by Al Arabi, who jumped from ninth to eighth with 10 points, displacing Al Khor by virtue of having scored more goals. The Peregrines did not live up to expectations. In fact, Al Arabi would have snatched a victory had it not been for a late equaliser. However, Al Sailiya stayed fourth with 20 points, keeping the first four positions in the standings in tact.
Umm Salal came up with a 3-1 win over Al Kharaitiyat to close the gap with Al Sailiya to just one point.
Al Gharafa put it across Al Ahli 2-1 in a much-awaited contest, marked by the debut of both coaches Bulent Uygun (Al Gharafa) and George Jorge (Al Ahli). It also saw The Cheetahs’ star signing Wesley Sneijder make his first appearance.
Al Gharafa climbed from sixth to seventh with 14 points.
Week 12 saw 18 goals being scored in all compared to the previous week’s 15, with Qatar SC vs Al Duhail and Al Rayyan vs Al Khor fixtures the high-scoring ones.
There were two drawn games (Al Sadd vs Al Markhiya and Al Sailiya vs Al Arabi) and not a single red card.