Al Wakrah will face a stern test when they host AlSadd on Thursday as Al Ahli clash with Al Arabi in Al Hilal derby.
Al Wakrah vs. Al Sadd | kickoff 16:10 | Al Wakrah Stadium
Matchday 12 of QNB Stars league kicks off with an intriguing clash between two Spanish coaches.
Following a 5-1 win over Al Gharafa last week, Xavi Hernandez will be hoping to lead Al Sadd to another victory that will ease the pressure he had faced recently after his side’s poor performances at the FIFA Club World Cup, and league defeats against arch-rivals Al Duhail and Al Rayyan.
The defending champions are fourth in the league table, 11 points behind leaders Al Duhail, but with two games in hand.
Both sides will miss key players who joined the Qatar under-23 national side in Thailand for the Asian Championship which will kick off on January 8. But while centre-back Tarek Salman will be the most notable absence from the wolves’ starting eleven, Al Wakrah manager Tinitin Marquez will have to find replacements from five key players; Ahmed Sohail, Mohamed Waad, Khalid Munir, Ali Mallallah, Hassan Plaang, in addition to the midfield maestro, Crisitan Ceballos
The Blue Waves are ninth in the table, seven points from the relegation zone. Last week, a last-minute strike from Yacine Brahimi denied them a point against Al Rayyan.
The opening game of the season saw Al Sadd registering a 4-1 victory, as Al Wakrah played with 10 men for most of the 90 minutes after the early dismissal of Malallah, and with the current situation they look certain for another emphatic victory on Thursday.
Al Ahli vs. Al Arabi | kickoff: 18:20 | Al Ahli Stadium
Both teams will also miss key players taking part in the Asian Championship with the Qatar U-23 national team, but their foreign legions should guarantee an exciting Al Hilal derby.
Nebojsa Jovović replaced Ruben de la Barrera as Al Ahli manager last month. He will be eager to see his side winning the derby game, after the 3-0 defeat in his QSL debut against Al Duhail last week.
Abdel Hernandez (6 goals), Nabil El Zhar (3) and Hernan Perez (3) scored 75% of Al Ahli’s league goals this season, and they will all be available for the Serbian coach today.
Al Arabi won the opposite fixture 3-1 back in August, and they will once again be the favourites this week, despite not winning their last five league fixtures (three defeats and two draws), as they welcome back their midfield chief Aron Einar Gunnarsson.
The Iceland national team captain was out since early October after suffering an ankle injury in the league game against Al Khor. It was also good news for his compatriot Heimir Hallgrimsson as he renewed his contract as Al Arabi manager until the summer of 2021.