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Falcon shield at stake as Al Duhail, Al Rayyan aim for crucial wins

Falcon shield at stake as Al Duhail, 
Al Rayyan aim for crucial wins

Ayeni Olusegun
Six points left, Falcon Shield is the price as Al Rayyan and Al Duhail head into a decisive penultimate weekend of the 2019-20 QNB Stars League season.
Leaders Al Duhail will hope to put a demoralizing loss to Al Sadd last weekend behind them when they take on lowly Al Khor while Al Rayyan face a tricky tie against bottom side Al Shahania who are yet to lose since the league restart.
Chasing their seventh league title, Al Duhail has lost two matches so far but has been far from their best. With Rui Faria’s departure after the Qatar Cup and Walid Regragui’s appointment later, the Red Knights have struggled for goals so far with just 36 goals despite boasting the likes of Almoez Ali, Mohammed Muntari, Yousef Msekni and Kwang Han Song in the attack. Though the defence has held steady under Mehdi Benatia’s leadership, they have suffered injuries to Bassam al Rawi in defence and midfield stalwart Assim madibo, who only recently returned from a long term injury.
Despite losing to reigning champions Al Sadd, who still have an outside chance to win the league, Regragui says a win against Al Khor would set the tone for the club, no matter Al Rayyan’s result.
“We must beat Al Khor. We hope to remain in high spirits as we did in all previous matches, especially against Al Sadd in the last round, even though we failed to get any point from that game. Al Khor will not be easy but the advantage we have is that we still control our fate and win the next two matches to win the league. I have told the players this already,” Regragui said.
“Asim Madibo is injured again but we are not looking for excuses. I have confidence in the players who are ready to take the field,” the Moroccan added.
Leaders Al Duhail on 46 points are just one point ahead of second-placed Al Rayyan. At the Al Janoub Stadium, The Lions will face a different Al Shahania side under new coach Nabil Anwar.
Diego Aguirre knows his side can still win the league for the first time since 2016 if they pick maximum points from the next two matches.
“For sure, Al Shahania will be very difficult, especially due to their current situation. I’m sure they will play and give everything. Our last chance for the league is in this game, and if we don’t win, then maybe we don’t win the league. It’s like a final for us,” the Uruguayan said
“The result between Al Sadd and Duhail last week was perfect for us. I’m happy for Tabata to score a crucial goal, which is very good for us.
We’ll be lucky to score two goals, but sometimes one goal is enough. We are in the right moment, and we need to play hard and try to win our game, and then we see what happens after.”
Aguirre, in his second spell at the club, also highlighted the team’s progress this season.
“We had prepared well so far this season compared to last season when the club finished 20 points behind the winners. This season we have lost just one game and remember some players joined this year. We drew some games initially as we were building the team, but now we have improved a lot. If we win the title, it will be amazing and perfect, and we will keep fighting,” he added.
Also on Friday, Al Gharafa will cement fourth place with a win over Umm Salal at the Al Janoub Stadium.Today’s Matches
Umm Salal vs Al Gharafa (at Al Janoub Stadium) 4pm
Al Shahania vs Al Rayyan (at Al Janoub Stadium) 7.30pm
Al Duhail vs Al Khor
(at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium) 7.30pm