Al Duhail's First Outing at the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup
The FIFA Club World Cup final is just around the corner. Five continental champions and the host nation's national league champions have, to date, contested the opening rounds and the semi-finals in Doha. Now, two teams remain in the battle to be the Club World Champions of 2020.
The tournament has, so far, been an absorbing watch, with numerous unexpected twists and turns. Favourites for the final, Brazil's Palmeiras, alongside Germany's FC Bayern Munich, were beaten in the semi-finals by Mexico's Tigres UANL. Tigres' 1-0 win made Club World Cup history; the squad will be the first CONCACAF team to reach the competition's final match. Palmeiras will now fight for 3rd place against Egypt's Al Ahly SC, who lost out to Bayern in the semis after football's top striker, Robert Lewandowski scored twice against the African giants. Bayern Munich and Tigres will go head-to-head in the final on February 11th at Qatar's brand new World Cup 2022 venue, Education City Stadium. South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai FC, recent winners of the Asian Champions League, held in Doha in December 2020, bombed out of the competition into 6th place after defeats by Tigres, in the competition's opening match, and Qatar's Al Duhail SC, in the contest for 5th place. In fact, the host's team, Al Duhail, gave a pretty impressive performance against the South Korean squad, beating them 3-1.
Considering it was Al Duhail's first shot at the FIFA Club World Cup, their win against Ulsan and their final standing of 5th place was cause for celebration in Qatar. Though they lost out to Al Ahly in the openers, the outsiders were able to flex their muscles against Ulsan. In the first half of the game, Edmilson Junior booted the ball into the bottom-corner of Ulsan's goal in a superb shot from outside the penalty area. While Ulsan's Yoon Bitgaram equalised shortly afterwards, Mohammed Muntari volleyed the ball home after a stylish chip over the defenders' heads by Brazilian national Dudu in the second half. The final winning goal was punted home late in the game by Almoez Ali. The win secured major personal accolades for the team and the nation. On a continental level, South Korean teams have won the AFC Asian Champions League title twelve times and have been runners-up for the trophy six times. By comparison, Qatar has won the title only two times and runners up just once. To beat Ulsan, the squad that took home the most recent champions league title and had in its ranks the AFC competitions' most valuable player of 2020, was an important win for Qatar and its standing in Asian football. And, coming 5th in their first outing at the Club World Cup was also impressive for club and country considering their opponents' calibre.
So, other than the host nation's national league winners, who are Al Duhail SC?
Al Duhail Sports Club
Founded relatively recently in 2009, Al Duhail SC, locally known as The Red Knights, is one of Qatar's top tier football clubs. Entering the Qatari second division in 2009, the club quickly made its mark on the country's football scene. By the end of the team's first season, they finished fourth in the league. By the end of its second season, the club won the league and was promoted to the Qatar Stars League (QSL), the nation's premier football competition. And, here they have stayed becoming one of the country's most prominent teams.
The club's 2010/11 debut for the Qatar Stars League, saw them finish at the top of the league standings - making them the first club to win the title in their breakout season. Since that win, the club has earned the title a further six times. Alongside their top tier wins, the club has also triumphed at the Emir Cup and the Qatar Cup, both on three occasions, and the Qatar Super cup, twice.
Previously named Lekhwiya SC, the club was rebranded, alongside its takeover of fellow Al Duhail club, El Jaish SC, in 2017. The newly branded team made a splash during the 2017/18 season by winning all three major domestic league titles (the QSL, the Emir Cup and the Qatar Cup).
In a nutshell, Al Duhail is one of Qatar’s best football teams, and they have achieved that accolade in an amazingly short space of time. Their achievements at the FIFA Club World Cup cannot be underestimated. The team will have gained valuable experience against one of Africa's most successful football clubs, Al Ahly, and AFC Champions League heavyweights, Ulsan Hyundai. As winners of the 2019–20 Qatar Stars League, the current squad can take that experience forward to the 2021 AFC Champions League - who knows they may get to have a rematch with defending champions, Ulsan Hyundai.
- The current Al Duhail squad has around a dozen players in their ranks who also play for the Qatar national football team. The club's youth team also has players in the U23’s national team. National squad players include goalkeeper Mohammed Al Bakari, defenders Ali Afif and Ismaeel Mohammad, midfielders Karim Boudaif, Assim Madibo, Ahmad Moein, Abdelrahman Moustafa and Abdullah Al Ahraq, and forwards Bassam Al Rawi and Mohammed Emad.
- Two of Al Duhail’s FIFA Club World Cup goalscorers against Ulsan Hyundai, Mohammed Muntari (age 27) and Almoez Ali (age 24), are also both in the national squad.
- Almoez is the national team’s current top scorer with 29 goals over 61 caps.
- Karim Boudaif (age 30) is one of the current national senior squad’s most capped players with 81 appearances. Not far behind him, Almoez has 61 caps for the national team, Ismaeel Mohammed has earned 59 caps and Ali Afif has 56 appearances under his belt.
- The youngest player from Al Duhail to be included in the Qatari national team is Mohammed Emad, aged just 19 years.
Looking ahead to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, some of Al Duhail's players may be in the national squad's line-up for the tournament. The club has plenty of experienced players and numerous action-hungry rookies who could represent their country at the competition. So, if you enjoyed watching Al Duhail at the Club World Cup, keep an eye out for their men on the pitch in 2022.
Find out more about the FIFA Club World Cup in our Club World Cup Fact File.
To read more on the Qatari National Team and its players, read our articles The Qatari National Football Teams Road to Success and Getting to Know the Al Annabi Boys.
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