Review: Al Rayyan begin QSL title defence in style

 20 Sep 2016 - 0:00

Action during Al Rayyan’s opening match against Al Shahaniya at the Qatar Stars League in Doha on Saturday.  

Doha: The Qatar Stars League (QSL) kicked into life this weekend, The Peninsula will look at the key moments that defined the round in our new feature, talking points.

Strong start from the top 4
Last season’s top four sides started the 2016/2017 in impressive style with comprehensive performances. Al Rayyan, last terms QSL champions set down a marker with a 3-0 win over newly-promoted Al Shahaniya. Talismanic captain Rodrigo Tabata (pictured) was the star of the show grabbing an impressive hat-trick.
Likewise, Al Sadd and Lekhwiya registered 4-0 home wins over Al Khraitiyat and Muaither respectively. 
El Jaish, fresh from their exploits in the AFC Champions League had to endure a nervy final fifteen to register a narrow 2-1 win over Al Wakrah.
Tough season ahead for the promoted sides
Life in the QSL couldn’t get much worse for the newly-promoted sides Al Shahaniya and Muaither. Both sides were soundly beaten by Al Rayyan and Lekhwiya over the weekend.
Al Shahaniya did enjoy a strong first half performance, before being brushed aside in the second half. While Muaither endured a torrid time against Lekhwiya losing 4-0, more pressing perhaps for Muaither head coach Phillipe Birol is that Lekhwiya enjoyed 63% possession over the course of the game.
Both sides will be looking to immediately make amends in round two, when they face each other at Al Arabi Stadium on September 22, KO 17:50pm. It could be an early relegation six pointer for the promoted sides.
Ahli looking deadly on the break 
Al Ahli perhaps caused the biggest shock of the first round of QSL action grabbing an impressive 4-2 victory over a highly favored Al Gharafa outfit. The Brigadeers came from a goal behind, and looked strong on the break. 
All four of Ahli’s goals came with the side breaking at pace, and taking advantage of Al Gharafa defensive mistakes.
Congelese striker Firmin Mubele and Qatar international Meshal Abdulla linked up well, and new head coach Luka Bona?i? will be hoping for more of the same when Al Ahli take on Al Sadd away from home in round 2.
Race for the MansorMuftah award is on
Early favourites for the MansorMuftah award for the top scorer in the QSL were amongst the goals in round one.
Tabata, who shared the award last term, grabbed a well-documented hat trick. Whilst pretenders to the Qatari international’s award in the form of Sadd striker Bagdad Bounjah and Al Ahli veteran grabbed opening day braces. Even Lekhwiya’s summer signing Yusef El Arabi grabbed a goal, in a lively debut for his side.

The Peninsula