Exploring the Association between Indicators of Football Performance and Match Outcome: A Qatar Stars League Perspective
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This study explores the association between performance indicators and match outcome in football in Qatar. To the best of the author’s knowledge, there have been no published match analysis studies in the Middle East focusing solely on technical indicators of football performance. Previous match analysis research has been largely focused on physical performance indicators and there have only been a few recent studies on technical performance indicators. These studies have found outcomes such as goals, shots and shots on targets were determinants of success, however this study looked deeper into the actions leading up to these actions to determine other performance indicators that had a positive association with match outcome. Using pre collected data from the eight seasons of the Qatar Stars League (2011-2019), 23 performance indicators were analysed using a Poisson regression to determine their association with match outcome. Participants in the study were players in the Qatar Stars League from 2011 - 2019 and were full time professional footballers. Although this study did not use any individual data, the combined totals of 905 players were used. Data was collected by the external company STATS using six elevated fixed cameras in each stadium as well as the footage of the match broadcast by the Al Kass television channel. Data was downloaded from a secure online database to access the 23 performance indicators for each team for each match. Key findings in the study were that winning teams had had more goals scored and shots on target (as per previous studies), but fewer crosses, successful crosses, opposition third entries, corners, and passes than losing teams. This suggested that it is the of quality of performance indicators that lead to goals, rather than just the quantity. In terms of defensive performance indicators, winning teams had less goals and shots conceded as per previous research but also more clearances and tackles. This highlighted the value of defensive actions and making appropriate decisions of when to clear instead of attempting to pass. Higher ranked teams had more passes and shots when they won showing they value possession no matter what the score. Lower ranked teams had more clearances when they won, further highlighting the importance of this action. Although this study was based in the Middle East, this research could be applied in other leagues to determine if there are differences between leagues, or at a team level to assist coaching staff in their decision making. One novel finding of this study was the importance of clearances. Team staff may wish to address this in training to increase successful results for their team. This study has highlighted which performance indicators have an association with match outcome at a team level, but future research may wish to consider performance indicators by position, the timing of performance indicators in the match, or the integration of physical performance indicators.