FORMER champions Al Arabi defeated Al Gharafa 2-0 in front of home fans last week to raise their hopes of a respectable finish in the competition.
Luis Jimenez and Yousef Ahmed found the target in the 49th and 70th minutes respectively as Arabi ended their three-match winless run to move up one place to seventh with 23 points.
Arabi would be looking to challenge Gharafa (31 points) and Al Ahli (24) for a fifth-place finish.
Inconsistency and a lack of application had been Arabi’s main drawbacks this season, but their seventh win gave fans something to cheer about.
Arabi coach Oswaldo Oliviera exuded confidence.
“We’re still in the race for the fifth place. It’ll be tough, but not impossible,” said the Brazilian, whose side take on Sadd on Thursday. “We hope to maintain our performance in the remaining rounds and just hope others drop points. We can’t be the champions, but can expect a respectable finish. Let’s hope for the best and do well in the last few games.”
Arabi were lucky to collect full points against Gharafa, whose sudden loss of form will give coach Pedro Caixinha sleepless nights as his side has managed just one win from last six games.
“We had capitalised on Gharafa’s decline in form, but that doesn’t mean our boys played bad or were unimpressive. We deserved to win and if we maintain the momentum, we might as well topple Gharafa and Ahli in the standings,” added Oswaldo, who joined the club last month.
The 66-year-old heaped praise on Yousef, who scored the second goal.
“Yousef is a bundle of talent and deserves a lot more than what he has achieved. He can perform much better,” said Oliviera.