Al Ahli did not get the sort of start they were looking for in this season’s QNB Stars League as they suffered several setbacks, finding themselves in the ninth place by the end of seventh round with only six points.
The Brigadiers only had victories against Qatar SC and Al Kharaitiyat to show for their efforts.
However, Week 8 proved the turning point in Al Ahli’s campaign as they started making a turnaround in their fortunes with a 2-1 victory over Al Shahania.
Al Ahli followed it up with a 3-0 defeat of Al Arabi and then made it really big by shocking formidable side Al Sadd by a 4-1 margin in Week 10.
Czech Milan Macala’s men ended the first leg with a 2-0 win over Al Khor, played out a 1-1 draw with Al Rayyan, defeated Qatar SC 1-0 and drew goalless with Umm Salal before going into the ongoing long break by inflicting a 3-1 defeat on Al Gharafa.
Al Ahli will be keen to maintain the momentum and barge into the top four in QNB Stars League standings when the tournament resumes after the Asian Cup in the UAE (5th January-1st February).
The team is now placed fifth with 26 points from eight victories, two draws and five defeats. They have a goal difference of +3, having scored 25 and conceded 22.
Their best results were 4-1 verdict against Al Sadd, 3-1 win over Al Gharafa and 3-0 victory against Al Arabi. Worst results were 0-4 loss to Al Gharafa and 1-4 defeat at the hands of Umm Salal.
The poor start had obvious reasons. The team underwent many changes in the new season both on the coach and player fronts.
Macala returned to the Qatari club, who brought in four new foreign professionals — Moroccan Mohsine Moutaouli, Iranians Omid Ibrahimi and Mohamed Reza, and Dutchman Nigel de Jong. Some new Qatari players too joined the squad. The most notable among them were Abdulrahman Mustafa, who is currently doing duty for Qatar in the Asian Cup in the UAE.
The preparation period also had its effect on their unimpressive start. They camped abroad for a few days, but that seemed not enough to prepare the squad for a competition of this magnitude. And players needed time to adapt.
Widely-travelled Macala, who was at Al Ahli’s helm from 2012 to 2015 as well, deserves much credit for the team’s good run so far this season.
Al Ahli’s remaining seven QNB Stars League matches are against Al Kharaitiyat, Al Sailiya, Al Duhail, Al Shahania, Al Arabi, Al Sadd and Al Khor.
Macala & Co will be eyeing nothing less than a top-four spot once the competition resumes.