The State of Qatar has been investing in football tremendously in recent years with aspirations to become a prominent football hub worldwide. The Qatar Football Association has even pushed through incentives worth millions of dollars to import international players to draw attention to the favorite sports in the world. it resulted in positive developments and Qatar has established a prominent football scene with steady national teams who compete in the different national leagues. The Qatar Stars League features 14 teams nowadays and all of them fight eager on the court and in stadiums for the Championship title. The current title holder is Al-Rayyan from the same-named city Al-Rayyan, who won the Qatar Stars League in the last 2015/2016 season. But Qatar has also other football clubs worth to mention due to their accomplishments.
Al-Rayyan Sports Club
The Al-Rayyan Sports Club is one of the oldest Qatari clubs which was formed 50 years ago or in 1967. They are known as The Fierce or The Lions which reflects also their performance on the football court. The club is not only known for its football achievements, but also for winning titles in basketball, handball, etc.
The club was once relegated to the second division of the QSL even if they were second, a s a punishment because their fans collided with the Al Saad fans. The club was promoted back to the first division in the following season. After the mishap, the club reorganized and built a new stadium in 1983 winning the QSL that year, whereby the stadium was reinaugurated in 2003. During the 2000's, the club has experienced numerous ups and downs only to reclaim the championship in 2014/2015.
Many high-profile signings brought fame to the club and their games are mass-attended counting a big fan-base throughout the Gulf region. They even won the Best Fans award in 2008/2009. Nowadays, the team features four international players from Greece, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
The head coach is Michael Laudrup from Denmark, who played as attacking midfielder during his football career. The former football player played for the Danish national team. He also played for Juventus and Barcelona, wherefrom he switched to Real Madrid in 1994. It is widely known that transferring from Barcelona to Real and vice versa is always a scandalous moves, since these two clubs have been archenemies since forever.
The Danish giant remained successful in the coaching area as well which can be seen from the success of his Qatari club.
Lekhwiya Sports Club
The Lekhwiya Sports Club was founded in 2009 in the capital of Qatar Doha, and their home is the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium, which was opened in 2013 at a game that the team won. With a 10,000 capacity, the stadium saw many big games hosted. The Red Knights, as they are called, were 4th in the highest Qatar league, a championship whose title they used to hold more than once. The club is backed up by a big budget. When the club was established or reformed, as it went by the Al-Shorta Doha until 2009, it first was playing in the Second Division and ended up on a proud fourth position in 2009, their first appearance under the new name. next year, they won in the Second Division which granted them a ticked to the First Divison in the Qatar Stars League. Lekhwiya won the title immediately in that season 2010/2011, which was their first title in the First Division.
The club won also other important Qatari cups like the Crown Prince Club for two times in 2013 and 2015, just like the Qatar Super Cup, also known as Shiekh Jassem Cup (2015 and 2016). The club one the Qatar Emir Cup only once and that is last year.
The Qatar Stars League has imposed certain rules upon the clubs in the sense that they are not allowed to have more than four international players. One of the bright football stars of Lekhwiya is Spaniard Chico Flores playing the center back position in the team since 2014. Chico is well-known international players who played for many teams during his career including Swansea City and Genoa C.F.C in Italy. The team is also backed up by the Tunisian Youssef Msakni as a forward winger who has been in the team since 2012.
The team is led by manager Djamel Belmadi who has been there since the beginnings of the club. He was appointed club manager in 2010 until today. The French manager was a midfielder back in his football days and was a renowned and successful players who played for many famous clubs worldwide, e.g. Spain, France, UK, etc. He was also appointed head coach for the senior team in 2014. The manager’s successful team management is reflected in the team’s results.