DOHA: Qatar Stars League (QSL) champions Lekhwiya - one of the most consistent football sides in the country in the last four seasons - will be looking to add silverware to their bulging collection when they take on Al Sailiya in the Qatar Cup semi-final today.
A little over three weeks ago, Lekhwiya sealed their third QSL title win in four years and the side coached by Eric Gerets (pictured right) has the chance to pick up their second trophy when they meet fourth-placed Al Sailiyah in the clash at Qatar SC.
Lekhwiya, who posted an impressive 16 wins in their successful QSL campaign, had a faltering start drawing and losing some games in the first few rounds of QSL but after the new year they didn’t lose a match on their way to being crowned QSL Champions for the third time.
Round 10 is where things changed for Lekhwiya as they beat Al Rayyan, then in round 11 they beat Umm Salal and round 12 was a decisive game against Al Sadd which they won.
After that run of wins, Lekhwiya never looked back as they once more secured their participation in next season’s QSL, Qatar Cup and AFC Champions League. But for Lekhwiya to lay siege on their trophy ambitions, the boys in red will have to deal with season’s surprise package - Al Sailiya. Out of the four teams to compete in the first ever Qatar Cup, Al Sailiya have surprised everyone this season with their fearless displays.
The club who were relegated last season but got a second chance due to the league expanding to 14 teams has proven their worth by finishing in the top four for the first time in the club’s history.
Looking at their previous encounter with Lekhwiya in the QSL back in January which was a draw, today’s semi-final game could go either way.
They have done more than silence their critics; they have gone beyond even their own expectations.
This was in large part due to their shrewd tactician of a coach Sami Trabelsi (pictured below) who has remained calm and consistent throughout the season and brought in some good players to compliment and strengthen his side.
Fans cannot forget the leadership of their indomitable front man Moumouni Dagano who has scored 14 goals but also been a major team player by giving 10 important assists.
One of their key matches came in round 24 against Al Sadd, who got an early lead but Al Sailiya showed that they are made of sterner stuff and came back to win 2-1 away at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium. Al Sailiya finished in fourth spot on 42 points, winning 11 matches, drawing 9 and losing just 6 games.