Doha, Qatar: Al Duhail will be feeling Al Sadd breathing down their neck.
Just a couple of weeks ago they were eight points ahead of their closest rivals Sadd and now they are slipping, and how. The latest blow came at the hands of Qatar SC who put in a heroic performance to hold the reigning champions to a 1-1 draw.
After Osama Omari put Qatar SC ahead in the 22nd minute with a wily freekick, Duhail managed to snatch a draw thanks to Murad Naji’s brilliant effort also from a dead ball situation in the 75th.
Duhail are now four points ahead of Sadd but the Wolves can reduce the gap to just one with a victory against Al Shahania in the late match of the day.
Qatar SC, coached by Sergio Daniel Batista, came with a plan and implemented it to perfection.
They defended stoutly, attacked whenever they can, and gave it all for the whole 90 minutes, making life difficult for Duhail.
Qatar SC's tight defensive line means Duhail attack was limited to shots from distance or crosses from the wings which their defence dealt with.
Central defender Mohammed Al Jabri could be often heard saying “up, up”, urging his partners to maintain a higher line.
Amidst the defensive heroics, the Qatar SC forwardline, especially Osama Omari was doing enough to keep Duhail defence on their toes.
And Osama showed he can be more than a handful for any defence when he beat Duhail keeper Khalifa Ababacar at the near post with a freekick, awarded for a handball by Murad Naji.
The goal was unexpected but undeserving by no means as Qatar SC held Duhail’s famed forward line on a tight leash.
The absence of Nam Tae Hee, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in South Korea’s friendly victory against Uzbekistan in November, also hit Duhail hard.
Without Nam, Duhail were missing their x-factor - a player who makes short runs into the inside channels behind rival defences.
Nam’s absence made it easier for Qatar SC to defend which they did admirably well.
However, Qatar SC goalkeeper Jassim Adel was totally helpless when Murad Naji fired his free-kick into the top corner in the 75th minute after Hussein Ali’s foul on Ali Afif.
Though Duhail tried frantically to get a winner Qatar SC held on for a well-earned point.
Duhail will be doubly worried as Luis Martin also went out injured and did not take the field after the halftime break.
Will a make or break match against free-scoring Al Sadd on December 11, the signs are not good for Nabil Maaloul’s side.