15 Feb 2018 - 1:22
Determined Umm Salal aim to carry forward winning QSL momentum
By Armstrong Vas / The Peninsula
Doha: Umm Salal who are targeting a top-four finish will be looking to carry forward the ‘spirit and determination’ of the last round match when they take on QNB Stars League (QSL) leaders Al Duhail in the Round 17 match at Duhail Stadium here today.
Coach Talal El Karkouri, who made a winning debut, is hoping the win against Al Khor has transformed his side into a fighting unit.
“Obviously, it is going to be a tough game against Al Duhail. They are a side with outstanding players and are able to play well consistently. We will concentrate fully in order to provide a good level in this game and stay in a good shape in the league competition,” the Moroccan, who played top-flight football in his home country besides, France, Greece, England and Qatar before retiring in 2012, said on the eve of the match.
El Karkouri was delighted to begin his sting at the orange Fortress on a winning note.
“Personally, I was pleased to have registered a victory on my debut in this assignment. I was delighted to see my wards come back strongly into the game after being down to 10 men. We had a great second half and the result was there to see for everyone” said the 41-year-old. “The win has greatly motivated the side and has created a good atmosphere in the squad. We must continue to play with the same spirit and determination against Al Duhail. However, we have to take a cautious approach,” he said.
El Karkouri, however, had a word of caution for his players regarding Al Duhail.
“Al Duhail are a side that changes their players’ positions, making it difficult for the rivals. They can score any time. But I am confident. There are many possibilities for us and our target is a top-four finish in order to play in the Qatar Cup,” El Karkouri said.
Ivorian Yannick Sagbo, with eight goals so far, will lead their attack, ably supported by the likes of Syrian Mahmoud Mawas, while Adil Rhaili and Maher Yousef sacored goals in the 2-1 win over Al Khor.
Umm Salal stand fifth in the standings with 24 points, the same as Al Sailiya but behind on goal difference.
Al Duhail keep extending their unbeaten run to lead the table with 42 points from 13 wins and three draws, and are coming off a 5-1 victory over Al Gharafa. The Red Knights will be keen to continue their winning streak as Al Sadd are keeping pace with them with just two points behind.
Captain Youssef Msakni and in-form Almoez Ali, who recently emerged as the top scorer (six goals) at the Asian Under-23 Championship in China where Qatar finished third, both scored two goals, with Youssef El Arabi finding the other against Al Gharafa.
Moroccan striker El Arabi (21) and Tunisian attacking midfielder Msakni (16) are the QNB Stars League’s top two scorers. Then, they have South Korean playmaker Nam Tae-Hee on eight goals.
The return of Almoez to the squad after national duty and the good form of defensive midfielder Karim Boudiaf augur well for Djamel Belmadi’s side.