Doha: The return of Vladimir Weiss from a cruciate ligament injury means Al Gharafa now have a dream attack line also comprising Wesley Sneijder and Mehdi Taremi but it is the defence and midfield the Cheetah’s need to shore up if they are to challenge the likes of Al Duhail SC and Al Sadd for the QNB Stars League title.
Gharafa made a double swoop in the transfer market last January, bringing in Iranian Taremi and Dutch superstar Sneijder while giving the coaching reins to Bulent Uygun.
The Turkish coach however failed to achieve the desired result and was replaced by Christian Gourcuff during the close season.
The Frenchman will be hoping to unsettle the opponents by unleashing his strong attack but he also will have to ensure defensive discipline. Assim Madibo left for Duhail after his loan term and Gharafa will miss his tenacity in the middle of the pitch.
However, they have the wonderfully gifted Diego Amado who is equally at home in defence and in midfield.
The likes of Osman El Elihri, El Mahdi Ali and Ahmed Alaaeldin are a match for any player on their day, but Gourcuff would be asking for more consistent performances.
Gharafa failed to deliver after promising a lot last season and Gourcuff can’t afford anything of that sort.
Sneijder is well past his prime, but he still has the touch to control the flow of the game and a fully fit Weiss and Taremi can trouble the best of defences. That’s exactly what Gourcuff would be banking on.
Gharafa did well in the preseason finishing second in a friendly tournament in Oman.
They lost to Tunisian side CS Sfaxien 3-2 in the final but the likes of Amado and Sneijder impressed, the Dutchman also finishing as the topscorer.
Gharafa take on Qatar Sports Club at Al Sadd Stadium in the opening match of the league on August 4.