Sunday, June 20, 2010

News & Notes

So we've sort of gone on hiatus due to World Cup festivities. But we haven't forgotten about our loyal readership so here is the latest on what has been happening in the world of Palestinian Football:

  • The August 8th Friendly against Egypt has been cancelled due to the Egyptian FA's ianbility to receive clearance from the Foreign Ministry.
  • Ramzi Saleh will move to Ittihad Alexandria in a swap deal involving Mohammed Nagy 'Gedo'. Ittihad Alexandria will also receive 7 million Egyptian Pounds as well as Atiya Belqasi, Ahmed Ali, and Hani Al-Ajeezi.
  • Abdelatif Bahdari has officially signed on for one more year with Wehdat although the future of his teammate Ahmed Keshkesh is still in question.
  • No news yet on Majed Abusidu and Imad Zatara who are out of contract.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Arab-Israelis called up to National Team

Could the landscape of Palestinian Football be changing? Five players that participated in the friendly against Sudan are Israeli Arabs and have played with various clubs in the lower division of the Israeli league. These players include goal scorer Mohammed Jamal who previously played for Haopel Umm Al-Fahm (a third tier club) and will be in the ranks of Al-Am'ary next season. Hatem Karim who had a fine game partnering Abdelatif Bahdari in defence played for Haopel Bnei Lod (a second tier club) last season and will join Jerusalem club Jabal Al-Mokaber. The other three players featured as substitutes Atef Abu Bilal, formerly of Bnei Eilat (fourth tier) will join the oryxes of Dhaherieh,Husam Abu Saleh who plays for Hilal al-Quds (Jerusalem), and Ahmed Harbi who made the jump to Al-Am'ary from Haopel Umm Al-Fahm last year.

The big question mark is how we managed to do this. This friendly, unlike the one against Dynamo Moscow was a FIFA-sanctioned friendly. The players must, in turn, have documents that prove their citizenship. Simply turning up with a foreign passport and claiming Palestinian ancestry will not do. Moreover, Israeli citizens are not allowed into Gaza and most Area A locations in the West Bank where these clubs are based. In fact, the acquisition of a PA passport (if, they indeed acquired them) might cause some of these players to lose their Israeli citizenship according to Article 11 of the Israeli Nationality Law which outline three circumstances which could result in citizenship being revoked:

  • If the person entered a state which is considered an enemy state or if he got a citizenship at the enemy state.
  • If the person committed an act which is considered a breach of loyalty to the country.
  • If the person's citizenship was given to him/her on the basis of false information. The revocation of a citizenship which was given based on false information which was handed in in order to obtain it might apply even to the citizenships of the children of person.

I'm no expert on Israeli citizenship laws... so if you have any additional information let us know with a comment. Alternatively you can search this Wikipedia category and tell us who you'd like to see play for the national team.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Palestine vs Sudan: Match Recap

Amidst stifling heat and humidity in Omdurman, the Palestinian National team managed to do just enough to escape with a 1-1 draw. Due to the conditions much of the match was played in spurts with long lulls in the action. Al-Fursan lined up with Ramzi Saleh in goal but without Fadi Lafi who suffered an injury in training and without Mohammed Samara who was unable to make the trip due to issues with his passport. As a result of these absences, Palestine struggled to create many chances or control the pace of the game.

The game started off with Sudan looking like the better side as their players managed to turn defense into attack with ease. The Desert Hawks took the lead with the first real chance of the game. Tareq Mokhtar powerfully headed a corner in to the back of the net after Abdelatif Bahdari's stumble left him wide open. Bahdari would be the protagonist once again as he almost headed home an equalizer on the other end only to put the ball wide with keeper on the ground.

Palestine's breakthrough came just before the half. Fahed Attal's hard work paid off as he won the ball in the air and set up a streaking Mohammed Jamal for his first international goal on his debut.

There was little action in the second half to speak of as substitutions and the heat served to break any rhythm established by the two sides. Palestine had a goal by Fahed Attal ruled out as Abdelatif Bahdari was judged to be offside. Majed Abusidu came close with a free kick that just grazed the crossbar. Palestine made a late push in injury time to find a winner coming close through debutant Atef Abu Bilal, the Shabab Al-Khaleel winger going just wide despite having time and space at the edge of the area.
So it ended 1-1, Palestine still searching to end their drought without a win (a drought that stretches back to April 2006). It wasn't a convincing performance but should serve us well with the WAFF Championship fast approaching. The defense played well, and despite Bahdari's snafu he continues to look better and better every time he dons a Palestine shirt. Abusidu didn't roam forward and his passes were wasted by players whose first touch could be described as poor at best. The team did well to nick an opportunistic goal, and the defence actually kept Ramzi Saleh unoccupied... When's the last time you heard Saleh and unoccupied in the same sentence?

What is painfully clear is that when this team isn't featuring the likes of Abdala, Samara, Zatara, Kettlun, and yes even Amour the midfield is a complete and utter disaster. And the fact of the matter is that teams have won with poor GKs (Brazil 1994), poor defenses (Germany, 1954) and even poor forwards (Greece Euro 2004) but no team can win with a poor midfield. If we can get the aforementioned players into camp I think we could do something special. If not, well I can't say I expect much.

Full time

Sudan 1-1 Palestine

Palestine TV Report

Match will be aired on Palestine and Sudan TV, 8pm Palestine time, 17:00 GMT

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sudan v. Palestine Preview - Part 2 - Palestine Key Players

We don't get too political here, but its hard to ignore. The theme of the week is Israel's PR disaster, or what we decent human beings would call: bloody murder. Feel free to browse the internet for examples of spin doctoring, and buffoonish Hasbara. There are decent Israeli's out there of course, some visit this blog, but we are witnessing the actions of a thug nation. A salute to the Turkish dead.
Now back to topic! Here are key players to watch in tomorrows match:

Ramzi Saleh

The veteran goalkeeper is back after a long absence due to his commitments with Ahli in Egypt, the coaching staff preferring to give him time away from the national team to settle with the club. His experience there was like a rollercoaster ride, going from bench to fan favorite and back to bench, leading him to the decision to leave this summer. With Palestine, he consistently performs, pulling off enormous saves much to the relief of the defence, and is likely to be given the captains armband.

Majed Abusidu
Majed provides necessary experience in the back line, stemming from his years in the Kuwaiti top flight. The right back, who reportedly speaks with a Kuwaiti accent, also is dangerous in attack with his precision long balls and powerful long range free kicks. His newly joined club, Tadamon, just got relegated and he is looking for a big summer move, most likely within Kuwait.

Abdel-Latif Bahdari
Along with club mate Ahmad Keshkesh, the defender is Palestine's most successful export this year, winning the Jordan Cup with Wehdat which has offered to re-sign them awaiting their return from Sudan. Bahdari is maturing into the key centre back role and for Palestine to have a good game, he must have a good game.

Mohammed Samara
The midfielder hasn't joined the camp yet due to passport difficulties, we'll wait to see if he makes it in time. His absence would definitely be felt as Palestine need someone in the playmaker role.

Fahd Attal
Though he isn't scoring like he used to, Attal provides Palestine with the necessary attacking flare. He isn't afraid to take on a player and creates scoring chances with his impressive work rate. He could be employed in a striker or winger role.

Ahmad Keshkesh
The striker was instrumental in Wehdat's Cup winning season. After head-injury fears resulting from a collision with a Ramtha player in the semi-final of the Jordan cup, he came back in the second leg bandaged, scored twice, and scored Wehdats winning goal against Al-Arabi in the final...ironically a header. Keshkesh has the honor of scoring Palestine's first goal on home soil and is looking to add more international goals to his tally.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sudan v. Palestine Preview - Part 1

We express our solidarity with the international activists who fell victim to Israel's high sea piracy and we extend our sympathies to the families of the deceased, we'll never forget them.

While we have been glued to our tvs watching the developments of the situation, our national team has been in Khartoum preparing for the friendly against Sudan on Friday. The match will be played in the Merrikh stadium in Omdurman, the same venue that hosted Egypt and Algeria's famous deciding World Cup Qualifier.

Palestine has been holding practices at the Hilal stadium in Omdurman under the eye of a crowd of onlookers and the Sudani press. The team arrived in Sudan early Sunday and as of Wednesday, all players should be in camp except for Ammar Abusleisel who was unable to leave Gaza.
This match is part of Palestine's preparations for the West Asian Games later this year and the 2014 preliminary World Cup qualifiers that start in 2011. Sudan is preparing for their African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, their first fixture against the Congo this September.

Previous encounter
Palestine and Sudan last met in 2002 in the Pan Arab cup in Kuwait playing out a 2-2 draw. That match could be of little predictive value though as the teams fielded now are pretty different. Contrasted to Nicola Shahwan's heavily Chilean influenced squad of 2002, Palestine's squad in Khartoum is made up fully of West Bank and Arab based players and is headed by French-Algerian manager Mousa Bezaz. As for Sudan, they have opted to field fresher faces, not calling up a number of their more experienced players.

Clash of schools
It should be an interesting match, especially as there is a contrast between the two sides. Geography alone should be an indication. Both play in very different competitive climates, Asia and Africa and the playing styles will reflect that.
Sudan's players are all domestic, coming from a handful of Sudani clubs, most prominently Hilal and Merrikh which have a lot of African exposure in the CAF Champions League. There should be a lot of cohesion within the squad as a result.
Palestine on the other hand have a pretty diverse group playing in the West Bank and other Arab countries top divisions. However lack of cohesion shouldnt be much of a problem as the team has been meeting up regularly throughout the past year and played a number of matches against national teams and clubs.

High Expectations
After the draw against the UAE late last year, it is reasonable to assume that Bezaz is guiding the team on the right path. Furthermore, the restart of the West Bank league two years ago is sure to show a marked improvement on the players and the presence of top players in various positions is encouraging. Therefore, as evidenced by message boards, it is no surprise that Palestine fans are expecting a result. We shouldn't forget that we are the away team and are playing in a climate we aren't used to against a well-established team, but Sudan haven't been in top form lately and with the absence of a number of their veterans, this match should be a contest.

Sudan v. Palestine
Friday June 4th 2010
17:00 GMT
Merrikh Stadium, Omdurman, Khartoum