14 Sep 2017 - 1:03
Umm Salal and Al Kharaitiyat vow thrilling contest in season opener
By Fawad Hussain / The Peninsula
Eyeing a winning start to the new season, Umm Salal have vowed to take on Al Kharaitiyat with full might as the two evenly-matched sides open their QNB Stars League (QSL) campaign with a game at Al Gharafa Stadium tomorrow.
Umm Salal finished the last season with an impressive sixth spot while Al Kharaitiyat also displayed commending performances to secure seventh position.
With the prestigious league being reduced to 12 teams, all the sides are aware of the importance of each game.
“It is going to be a tough match. We must be careful against Al Kharaitiyat who also finished strongly last season,” Umm Salal coach Mahmoud Jaber said in a pre-match press conference yesterday.
Umm Salal did not make much changes to their squad for the new season and Jaber is hoping their decision to retain majority of players will go in his team’s favour.
“We have kept the majority of the side together from last season, and we have prepared well. I believe that this can give us an advantage against the sides who have changed many players this season” said the Egyptian coach before hoping for a winning start.
“We have strengthened in key areas this season and I believe we are well placed to do well.”
Summer signing Rami Fayez declared the squad ready for a demanding league campaign.
“Everyone at Umm Salal is mentally and physically prepared. I am expecting a tough match on Friday (tomorrow), and the squad certainly feels that we can make a impact this season,” he said.
While Umm Salal are upbeat about a winning start, Al Kharaitiyat will also go in the battle with similar confidence vowing a thrilling contest in opener.
“It’s going to be a close contest,” Al Kharaitiyat boss Ahmad Al Ajlani said yesterday.
“I believe both sides are at a similar level heading into the game. It is important that we play with balance in this opening match, and I feel that we can give a strong performance in this match,” he added.
The Thunders have struggled with relegation in recent years, and Al Ajlani hoped his side can turn their fortunes around starting against Umm Salal.
“This year we are aiming to be comfortable in the league, that is why a strong start will be important for us this season.”
Meanwhile, Umm Salal defender Mohammed Salem was expecting the QSL season to be full of shock results.
“With fewer teams in the league I think that every team will step up to avoid relegation, I certainly think that my team can shock a few sides this season.”