DOHA: The Qatar Stars League has formally launched the 2016/2017 season with a glittering ceremony in the Sheraton hotel, Doha today.
The event, which saw all 14 QSL head coaches field questions from the media ahead of the first round of matches which are set to take place on the 15th of September. Presenter Khalid Al Jumaily launched the ceremony off with a speech, which welcomed the teams back for the new season along with a welcome to the two promoted sides Muaither and Al Shahania.
Al Rayyan’s Uruguayan tactician Jorge Fossati suggested that it won’t be an easy feat for his side to retain the title that they swept to last term. “In Qatar it is tough as there are six or seven clubs capable of winning the title and they have improved in the summer. In Al Rayyan we will go about our business the same, we are a big club and we will aim for the title.”
Whilst Al Sadd coach Jesaldo Ferriera believes that his side can push again for title glory; “Al Sadd the most successful team in Qatar we are always aiming to win the title, we played well last season but it wasn’t good enough. I always strive to win, we will have plenty of challenges but I trust in the abilities of this squad.”
Al Ahli enjoyed a fine run of form towards the season which saw the Brigadiers grab sixth place in the league. New head coach Luka Bonacic admitted that the top four is a realistic target for his players; “Last year this group performed well, and we have kept with the same side I believe we can make the Qatar Cup places.”
Likewise Al Gharafa will be targeting a top four finish after enjoying an extensive preseason under head coach Pedro Caixinha. “Our team is a big club in Qatar with a history and loyal fans; we have to try for the top four. Gharafa is fully prepared and looking forward to starting the season.”
With the league being shortened to twelve side’s next season four teams will be relegated from the QSL. It will mean that sides that finished in the lower reaches of the table will be looking for a major improvement in fortunes this season.
“Al Wakrah must improve this season; The team is well prepared, that is the important for us I believe we have a good, integrated team this season we will need a strong team spirit if we are to stay in the league.” Admitted Wakrah head coach Mauricio Larriera who is eager to avoid an eleventh placed finish like last season.
Newly promoted sides will feature prominently in the battle to beat relegation. Despite the seemingly impossible chances Muiaither coach Philippe Birol was bullish of his sides chances this season; “Muaither won the right to be a part of the QSL last season, which was an achievement, now the hard work begins now. Our aim is to finish inside the top ten.”
Now with the league formally launched we have just eight days left before the first match between Al Ahli and Al Gharafa on the 15th of September.