Al Duhail will be keen to regain the lead position in the QNB Stars League standings when the tournament resumes after the Asian Cup in the UAE (5th January-1st February).
Al Duhail lost the lead to Al Sadd after losing the rescheduled match between them on 11th December by a 1-3 margin. The game was postponed from Week 9 owing to Al Sadd’s AFC Champions League commitment.
It was Al Duhail’s first defeat in the 2018-19 season QNB Stars League. It was also the last fixture before the competition took a long break.
After 15 rounds of action, The Red Knights are now on 36 points, two adrift of Al Sadd. They have 11 victories to their credit, the second-highest after Al Sadd’s 12.
Al Duhail drew two matches (0-0 and 2-2 against Al Rayyan). They have a goal difference of +24, having scored 37 goals and conceded 13.
Only Al Sadd have a better goal difference (+51) even as Al Duhail’s attack line is the second best, after that of Al Sadd (65 goals for).
It may be noted that Al Duhail’s defence is the best. Next come Al Sadd and Al Rayyan, who both have conceded 14 goals.
Al Duhail started the 2018-19 season strongly. They were always in the lead and even looked like repeating their last season’s achievement — win the QNB Stars League with an unbeaten record — until they succumbed to Al Sadd.
Moroccan star Yousef El Arabi continues to be one of the most prominent players in Al Duhail ranks. He has so far scored 18 goals and is next to Al Sadd’s Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah (29).
El Arabi was the league’s top scorer in the last two seasons.
The change of coach, with Tunisian Nabil Maaloul replacing Algerian Djamel Belmadi at the start of this season, does not seem to have affected the side.
Most of their players have been together for long and that is making much difference, as is evident from their excellent results. All players from last season stayed, while Paolo Edmilson was the only addition this time. The Brazilian was hired ahead of the current season as replacement for injured Tunisian attacking midfielder and winner of last season’s best-player award Yousef Mskani.
Brazilian defender Lucas Mendez and South Korean midfielder Nam Tae-Hee are the other overseas players. Other prominent players are Karim Boudiaf, Almoez Ali, Ali Afif, Murad Naji, Mohammed Mousa, Asim Madibo and Bassam Al Rawi.
Al Duhail are sure to face a tough challenge from Al Sadd in their bid to win the league title for the third season in a row and seventh time in history.