(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Doha: The match-up between Qatar SC and Al Duhail attracts attention for more reasons than one even though it may be a clash between table toppers and minnows.
The kick-off is at 6:30pm at the Qatar SC Stadium on Saturday, January 13.
Al Duhail lead the QNB Stars League standings with 29 points and an unbeaten record, the only team to stay so thus far this season. Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi's wards showed no let-up after every game in the first phase despite being held twice.
The Red Knights are expected go full steam ahead in the second phase as well and look favourites to lift the coveted league shield despite strong challenge from Al Sadd and Al Rayyan.
Al Duhail's confidence got a boost when their captain Youssef Msakni and Almoez Ali were adjudged the best players by ratings in overall (local and foreign professionals) and Under-23 category respectively after the first phase of action by the QNB Stars League's football analysis and statistics provider STATS company.
Al Duhail had enhanced their preparations ahead of the second phase by having two training sessions since December 30.
The morning session included gym exercises and evening regime had outdoor sessions.
A couple of their players who represented Qatar at the recent Gulf Cup in Kuwait later joined the team training, designed in such a way that they maintain the momentum in the remaining part of the season.
Qatar SC played four friendlies as part of their preparations for the second phase of QNB Stars League.
Perhaps, they are the side to have had the most number of friendly matches scheduled during the break.
They drew Al Khor goalless, defeated Umm Salal 3-0, and lost to the Iraq Olympic team by a second-half goal and Al Gharafa 1-2. On the other hand, Al Duhail played just one friendly and beat the Tunisian national team, with attacking midfielder Msakni scoring the all-important goal.
Qatar SC are 11th with only eight points, but The Kings have shown improvement ever since Qatari coach Abdullah Mubarak replaced Argentinian Gabriel Calderon.
Performance-wise, a thick line separates the teams. Al Duhail have the most goal difference (+24) among all 12 teams, while Qatar SC have the worst (-12) along with Al Kharaitiyat.
Both Al Duhail and Qatar SC have not made any changes to their squads other than that goalkeeper Amine Lecomte returned to Al Duhail after completing his loan term at Al Khor, where he played in the first phase.
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