DOHA: The Qatar Stars League (QSL) is once more upon us this weekend and to start us off we will see a double header at the Grand Hamad Stadium- the home of Al Arabi football club.
The honour of the first match goes to the two teams who surprised everyone last season; Al Ahli will face off against Al Sailiyah at 6:30pm today evening.
Then at 8:45pm hosts Al Arabi will take to the field and face visitors Al Khor for the second match of the night.
As a sign of support and solidarity, all four clubs have generously decided to donate the proceeds of the ticket sales to the people of Gaza who are currently caught up in the conflict.
Last season Al Ahli relied heavily on the services of Congolese striker Alain Dioko who went on to take first prize in the top scorers list as they finished in sixth spot. Al Ahli has managed to hold on to their star player and so with him at the helm, they could go on to beat Al Sailiyah this weekend.
However, ‘the Peregrines’ too have consolidated their strike force by bringing in Tunisian front man Issam Jemma.
In addition they have managed to keep their creative spark - Fawzi Ayish at the club for yet another season and will be looking to once again finish in the top four come the end of the campaign. Last season when these two sides first met, the points were won by Al Ahli (2-5) and in the second half of the season the game was even as they shared the points after a 2-2 stalemate.
In the second game of Round 1, home side Al Arabi will welcome Al Khor to the Grand Hamad Stadium. This game will see last year’s fifth placed team (Al Arabi) take on the 11th placed Al Khor.
Over the summer break Al Arabi threw out the old guard, replacing all of their four foreign players.
Out went Brazilian Wanderly and others and in came Pablo Hernandez, Paulo Sergio Betanin, Ashkan Dejagah, and Imoh Ezekiel.
With new recruits from the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A they too could be a force to be reckoned with if they manage to “gel” quickly.
Al Khor opted for stability, keeping hold of key players such as Brazilian midfielder Madison and their top scorer Ibrahim Awal. They also brought in experienced defender Euzebio and new Brazilian striker Wiliam Junior Da Silva.
With Al Arabi finishing just outside the top four last season (5th) they might be just a little too strong for the Thunders today.