Founded in 1963, the Qatar Stars League (QSL) has evolved significantly, especially after the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar cast a global spotlight on it. This premier football competition has become a breeding ground for homegrown and international talent, and 2023 is proving to be a year like no other. Most recently, Italy's Marco Verratti left PSG and snubbed the Saudi Pro League for Qatar's Al Arabi. Here are the top five Qatar Stars League clubs currently setting the pace and redefining the boundaries of the sport in the Gulf nation.
Al-Sadd continues to set the bar high in Qatari football. Once guided by the legendary Xavi Hernandez, they blend tactical acumen with technical finesse, making them formidable challengers. From 2019 to 2021, Al-Sadd won six cups and a league title with Xavi as their manager. Former Arsenal midfielder Santi Carzola made 55 appearances with the club over three seasons.
Founding History: Established to nurture football talent in Qatar, Al-Sadd has grown into a giant of Qatari and Asian football.
Trophies: 56 (Domestic level: 16 QSL titles, 18 Emir of Qatar Cup titles, 8 Sheikh Jassem Cup titles; Continental: 2 AFC Champions League titles)
Best Player: Baghdad Bounedjah, Xavi, Santi Carzola
Achievements: Al-Sadd is the most decorated club in Qatari football history, pinnacled with the player turned manager Xavi.
Al-Duhail SC has made significant strides in recent years and is the primary challenger to Al-Sadd's supremacy. With a strong focus on youth development and state-of-the-art training facilities, they are the epitome of ambition. They are the most recent winners, securing their eighth Qatar Stars League title during the 22/23 season.
Founding History: Originally known as Lekhwiya SC, the club merged with El Jaish SC in 2017 to form Al-Duhail SC, a force to challenge Al-Sadd's dominance.
Trophies: 16 (Domestic level: 8 QSL titles, 3 Emir of Qatar Cup titles, 2 Sheikh Jassem Cup titles)
Achievements: Despite being a relatively young club, Al-Duhail has captured multiple domestic titles and is quickly earning a reputation as a powerhouse in Qatar and Asia.
Historically significant and passionately followed, Al-Rayyan has rejuvenated its squad since the 2022 World Cup. A mix of seasoned veterans and emerging talent characterize their current lineup.
Founding History: Al-Rayyan initially formed as a sports club to foster athletic talent across various disciplines, primarily focusing on football.
Trophies: 36 (Domestic level: 8 QNB Stars League titles, 7 Emir of Qatar Cup titles, 4 Sheikh Jassem Cup titles)
Best Player: Abdulaziz Hatem
Al-Rayyan is one of the most celebrated clubs in Qatar, with a rich history and a passionate following. Their commitment to integrating youth and experience has kept them competitive across decades.
Al Arabi SC
Founded in 1952, Al Arabi is one of the oldest clubs in the country. Last 22/23 season, Al Arabi finished second in the Qatar Stars League behind champions Al Duhail.
Founding History: Al Arabi, one of the oldest clubs in Qatar, has a rich heritage and a deep-rooted history in Qatari football.
Trophies: 28 (Domestic level: 7 QSL titles, 8 Emir of Qatar Cup titles, 3 Sheikh Jassem Cup titles)
Best Player: Muaither Al Yamahi, Marco Verratti
Achievements: Al Arabi is one of Qatar's prominent teams. Known for its passionate fan base and storied history, the team has balanced traditional values with modern football tactics.
The 2023 season has seen Qatar SC emerge from the shadows to take the league by storm. Their balanced squad and tactical flexibility make them more than just underdogs—they are legitimate title contenders.
Founding History: Established as Al Oruba, the club changed its name to Qatar SC in 1961. It has been a mainstay in Qatari football, albeit with fluctuating fortunes.
Trophies: 14 (Domestic level: 3 QSL titles, 2 Emir of Qatar Cup titles, 4 Sheikh Jassem Cup titles)
Best Player: Ahmed Alaaeldin
Achievements: Qatar SC has been the surprise package of the 2023 season, demonstrating that they can challenge the top dogs in the league. Their strategy of blending young talent with experienced professionals has started to pay dividends.