Thursday, February 11, 2016


Al Salmiya Hoping For Three Points In Tight Title Race

I don't know if there is an Arabic equivalent for setting a cat among the pigeons but surely that is the effect of Al Sulaibikhat's surprise 2-2 draw against leaders Al Salmiya last weekend. Nominally an away game for the mid table side, the game was shifted to Salmiya's Tamer Stadium and they took full advantage, racing into a 2-0 lead over their 'hosts' with first half goals from Mohammed Swedan and Odai Al Saify and surely they were set fair for a fifth consecutive victory.

But Al Sulaibikhat refused to roll over and played dead and played with a stubborness that should not have surprised their high flying hosts. I had seen them limit Qadsia to a 1-0 victory earlier in the season on an evening when we had gone along expecting a goal feast but left marvelling at the unfancied side's determination and organisation.

So it was in Salmiya with a penalty from Abdullah Kolibali and an injury time equaliser from Abdulla Al Awadi depriving the team in sky blue a quick return to the top of the Kuwait Premier League.

The other challenging sides had emerged triumphant from their games with Kuwait SC, 2015 KPL Champions, narrowly overcoming Al Nasr 2-1 with a brace from Hamza Dardour while Qadsia defeated Al Yarmouk 2-0. With Al Arabi defeating Al Sahel 5-2 at home, and having two goals chalked off, the table has a familiar look about it going into this weekend's fixtures.

1 - Qadsia 15 12 2 1 48-9 38
2 - Al Salmiya 15 12 2 1 37-12 38
3 - Kuwait SC 14 11 2 1 33-9 35
4 - Al Arabi 15 9 4 2 39-15 31

This week sees Al Arabi, with five straight wins under their belt, hosting leaders Qadsia at their Mansouriya arena and while the crowd may not reach last season's sell out when both were still challenging for the title there should still be a healthy turn out and if the match is anything like the 2-2 draw when they first met earlier in the season it promises to be a cracker.

To add spice to the game it will be an early opportunity for recent Al Arabi signing Doris  Fuakumputu to come up against his old club.

Champions Kuwait SC host Al Jahra this evening. This season has not reached the heights of their last campaign for the out of town side when they finished fourth. They recently got thumped 10-0 by Qadsia and have been forced to play their home games elsewhere as punishment for incidents at an earlier home game that saw match officials attacked.

Al Salmiya have surprised many by keeping their title challenge going so long, a bit like Leicester City but without the clappers, and they will be hoping the lost points last time out will prove to be a mere blip on their campaign as they entertain Al Yarmouk on Saturday night.

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