Thursday, May 19, 2011

Doubts arise over Palestine's hosting capabilities

Which of these clowns will lead FIFA?

Several Pakistani sources have reported over the past 48 hours about the postponement or possible cancellation of the friendlies slated for May 24th & 27th.

Palestine always ran the risk of having this friendly unilaterally cancelled by the Israeli Occupation due to the fact that Pakistan and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. It also leaves the national team with no scheduled friendlies ahead of their June 29th qualifier against Afghanistan.

Speaking of the World Cup and Olympic qualifiers, there is still no clarity over where the return legs will be played. FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his rival, AFC President Mohammed Bin Hammam, have both given Palestine the green light to host matches. What they have failed to address is what happens when:

  1. A nation citing its refusal to recognize Israel, refuses to play an official qualifier in Palestine.
  2. A nation accepts to play in Palestine despite the absence of diplomatic relations with Israel but is not allowed entry into Palestine by the Israeli Occupation.
The first scenario is an easy one for Bin Hammam and Blatter to handle. You can stand by your initial decision and award the match to Palestine 3-0. It's an easy out for both men who essentially are unchecked dictators in their respective governing bodies. The second scenario is a political minefield with no easy out. Bin Hammam/Blatter could backtrack and reverse their decision but Blatter (the man expected to win the FIFA presidency) hasn't been one to back down. He has stared down the logic of goal line technology and rebuffed it year after year, botched call after botched call. Don't forget this is the same man who forced a grieving Nelson Mandela into making a public appearance before the World Cup Final.

The question is will Blatter levy punishment on the Israeli FA? FIFA has handed out suspensions for "government interference" in football. Israel has denied players the right to travel abroad and the right to re-enter on a continuous basis over the past 10 years. Sepp Blatter admitted that this situation has gotten worse and has vouched that FIFA will seek an exceptional solution to this exceptional problem.

Both FIFA candidates for President have given the Palestinian FA plenty of support over the past three years. This support, however, has never been put under duress and it remains to be seen what Bin Hammam or Blatter will do when extenuating circumstances get in the way of Palestine hosting a qualifying match.

Bin Hammam in his own words.
Blatter in his own words.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rapid Reaction: Palestine OT 1 : 1 Lebanon OT

Starting XI: Toufic Ali (Amr Abu Rweis); A'ed Al-Shaiokhy, Mustafa Abu Kweik (c), Samaha Jabareen; Amjad Zidan (Saleh Al-Najar), Fayez Aslieh, Salem Al-Darooby (Laith Kharoub), Wasim Eqab; Muath Mostafa (Rida Al-Da'mah), Khaled Salem.

Background: Palestine's Olympic Team played out an entertaining draw with their Lebanese counterparts in a match held to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba. Manager Mokhtar "The Dinosaur" Al-Talili had called up 16 players from eight different WBPL clubs to take part. While in Lebanon he also called up the six best players (two of whom- Mohammed Dalbi and Fawzi Maqdesi play for Al-Ansar's youth team and are eligible for the u-17s) from the refugee camps around the country. There was also a call up for Saleh Al-Najar, a player many are claiming to be a professional in Belgium. Several high profile players such as Eyad Abugharqud, Ahmed Mearry, and Abdelhamid Abu Habeeb were omitted from the squad. Al-Talili chose to let the players compete for the Palestine Championship- a friendly tournament featuring the top four teams in Palestine along with 12 teams from Jordan, the Golan Heights, Mauritania, Ghana, South Africa, Chile, and Hungary.

Recap: The partisans in Sidon's Rafic Hariri Memorial Stadium were decidedly pro-Palestinians with only a few dozen Lebanese supporters scattered throughout the 2000 or so that turned out. The chatter in football forums blame the FA and the long running ban on spectators in the Lebanese league for fear of sectarian violence.

The match was an open affair from the start with Lebanon having the better spell over the first ten minutes. Mustafa Shahin forced Toufic Ali into an acrobatic save in the 6th minute and returned 5 minutes later- this time Shahin redirected a well taken cross into Ali's net to open the scoring. Lebanon's lead did not last long, Khaled Salem exhibited his power and pace as he left a Lebanese defender in his wake before slotting home from just inside the box.

Palestine then had a series of chances fall their way including a penalty shout after Khaled Salem was brought down in the box. The open affair saw Amjad Zidan hit the right post and left post on successive shot attempts in the 30th minute. Ten minutes later, Mahmoud Kejk rattled a shot off Toufic Ali's crossbar.

Amjad Zidan ended a first half of entertaining and open football; he sprung the offsides trap and found himself one-on-one with the keeper only to hesitate and see his opportunity disappear.

The second half began much like the first. Lebanon caused Palestine a lot of trouble and substitute Amr Abu Rweis was called on more than once to make key interventions. Palestine seemed to still be adjusting to the four substitutions The Dinosaur made at the half. Al-Fursan were thrown a lifeline when Omar Aweidah was sent off after a rash tackle on Khaled Samlem. The powerful striker became a more prominent figure in the match testing the Lebanese keeper on several occasions. With a quarter of an hour left, Amjad Zidan made way for debutant Saleh Al-Najar (who sources claim plays professionally in Belgium). Al-Najar had a positive effect on the match but he along with his teammates were forced to settle for the 1-1 draw on this occasion.

Positives: Palestine managed to get a result away from home against a stronger team (Lebanon did beat Qatar 2-1 in December and drew Sudan 0-0 last month) while playing well for stretches of the game. Not bad considering the absence of six starting players from the team that took on Thailand in March.

In recognition of the humanitarian disaster that took place 63 years ago today the team visited the Ain Al-Helweh and Shatilla refugee camps whilst training in Beirut.

Negatives: This team needs to learn how to finish their chances. I would have liked to see The Dinosaur go for the jugular after Lebanon went down a man instead of retaining his semi-cautious formation.

What's Next: This friendly was seen as an opportunity for the Lebanese based talent to prove themselves ahead of the home and away qualifiers against Bahrain next month. (A-June 19th/H-June 23rd).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Football Palestine picks WCQ Squad v. Afghanistan

Disagree? Let us know your squad in the comments section. You can also read the scouting report on the potential player pool by clicking on the hyperlinks above each player category:

GK: Ramzi Saleh (unattached)
GK: Abdullah Saidawi (Hilal Al-Quds)
GK: Mohammed Shbair (Shabab Al-Khaleel)

LB: Roberto Bishara (Palestino, Chile)
LB: Samer Hijazi (Jabal Al-Mokaber)
CB: Abdelatif Bahdari (Wehdat, Jordan)
CB: Omar Jarun (Tampa Bay FC, NASL)
CB: Khaled Mahdi (Al-Am'ary)
RB: Majed Abusidu (Tadamon, Kuwait)
RB: Shareef Adnan (Al-Faisaly, Jordan)

LM: Hicham Ali (Malmö FF/FC Rosengard, Sweden)
LM: Atef Abu Bilal (Shabab Dhahrieh)
LM: Imad Zatara (Syrianska, Sweden)
AM: Abdelhamid Abu Habeeb (Balata)
DM: Houssam Wadi (Jabal Al-Mokaber)
DM: Edgardo Abdala (Santiago Morning, Chile)
CM: Mohammed Samara (Arab Contractors, Egypt)
RM: Ismail Amour (Jabal Al-Mokaber)
RM: Ashraf Nu'man (Tarji Wadi Al-Nes)


ST: Eyad Abugharqud (Al-Am'ary)
ST: Murad Alyan (Hilal Al-Quds)
FW: Fahed Attal (Wehdat, Jordan)
FW: Mustafa Hallaq (Al-Ahed, Lebanon)

23 Tickets to Afghanistan: Forwards

Who will partner Murad Alyan up top?

This entry is the fourth of a four part series. Parts 1-3 cover the potential Goalkeepers, Defenders, and Midfielders that could be called up for the World Cup Qualifier against Afghanistan. You can access parts 1-3 by clicking on the hyperlinks above. For the sake of brevity we only assess players who have previously been called up to the national team.

Staying at Home:

Mohammed Jebreen (Al-Bireh, WBPL)- Can be deployed as a winger but has had a very indifferent season with Al-Bireh scoring a measly two league goals (3 total) since transferring from Hilal Al-Quds in search of more playing time. Played an ancillary role at the Challenge Cup, never lived up to the hype of that goal he scored on his debut against Sudan.

Mohammed-ali Shatrit (Shabab Al-Khaleel, WBPL)- Did not feature during the Challenge Cup, for a guy who claims to be a striker he doesn't score a lot of goals. Since transferring from JA Drancy in the winter he has provided the suffering Hebronites only one goal.

Fadi Lafi (Saham, Oman Premier League)- Discarded by Bezzaz after his friendly in charge against the UAE, and rightfully so. Lafi has always, for whatever reason, been better at the clubs he's played at than with the national team. Fadi Lafi hasn't scored for the national team since 2002.

Flying Standby:

Ahmed Keshkesh (Wehdat, Jordanian Premier League)- He's scored a meager two league goals- with a total of 3 on the season. Kehskesh has also been out of favor at Wehdat and recently spent an entire month away from the team after being unable to cross back into Jordan. Strikers need playing time and they need to be scoring goals... Keshkesh isn't doing either and his goal tally is equal to that of Abdelatif Bahdari- a centreback. If it were up to me, I'd leave him out of the squad.

Mustafa Hallaq (Al-Ahed, Lebanon)- Was called up to the Challenge Cup qualifiers but had to decline the invite as he was tied to Al-Ahed. Began the season as one of the leading scorers but cooled off in the second half of the season. He also had to share time with Hassan Maatouk (top scorer of the league with 15 goals) and Mahmoud El-Ali (Third top scorer on 13 goals) and Abbas Ali (7 goals) these four helped power Al-Ahed to the league title with a gap of 10 points over the nearest rival. Hallaq would be a shoo-in for the World Cup squad but he injured his heel last month and there is no word as to when he will be fully recovered.

On the Plane:

Fahed Attal (Wehdat, Jordan Premier League): Five league goals, 7 in all competitions. Not impressive numbers but Attal has been relegated to mostly cameo appearances and still managed to be Wehdat's third top scorer in the league. If selected, Attal could finally be restored as a support striker- a role he flourished in when Al-Kord was still in the fold.

Eyad Abugharqud (Al-Am'ary, WBPL)- 20 league goals in 22 games, 23 in all competitions. He didn't really take his chance at the Challenge Cup but his continued goalscoring form has earned him a reprieve.

Murad Alyan (Hilal Al-Quds, WBPL)- 20 league goals, 33 in all competitions. 3 national team caps and 4 goals. Dado knows how to score and he will be the undisputed front man against Afghanistan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

23 Tickets to Afghanistan: Midfielders

Abuhabeeb will be in a Palestine shirt come June... but will it be against Bahrain (Olympic Qualifiers) or Afghanistan (World Cup Qualifiers)?

This entry is the third of a four part series you can read the first and seconds installments here and here. For the sake of brevity we only assess players who have previously been called up to the national team.

Staying at Home:

Roberto Kettlun (Virtus Casarano, Serie D)- The tricky and skillful winger will be turning 30 in July and he hasn't featured for the national team in nearly five years. He has spent the past four years in Italy's Serie D playing for Brindisi, Santegidiese, Teramo, Olympia Agnonese, and Virtus Casarano. It is troubling that a player of his quality is stuck playing semi-pro football in Italy and does very little to improve his chances of a call-up to the national team. Despite the fact that Palestine has an abundance of talented wingers, very few have the footballing intelligence of Kettlun. Roberto knows how to combine well with others and helps out the team by keeping possession of the ball. He'll be playing in the Serie D promotion playoffs starting May 22nd.

Edgardo Abdala (Santiago Morning, Chilean Primera)- Another one of the Chileans who has been constantly overlooked, his last call-up was against Singapore in 2007. Despite his age (33 in , I have been one of the advocates for his return as there is a complete lack of quality holding midfielders in the WBPL.

Fadi Salím (Merkaz Tulkarem, WBPL)- Singlehandedly kept Merkaz Tulkarem in the WBPL, has 2 goals in 15 appearances in the national team but hasn't been called up in the last three years.

Flying Standby...

Ma'ly Kawre (Al-Am'ary, WBPL)- The problem Kawre faces in joining up with the national team is the the fact that Israel's occupying forces have repeatedly denied him the right to travel. He has been one of the key players in Al-Am'ary's title winning season.

Ayman AlHendi (Shabab Al-Khaleel, WBPL)- Played a peripheral role in Challenge Cup qualification. I'd fully expect Bezaz to discard him for someone more established.

Shadi Allan (Wadi Al-Nes, WBPL)- Received his first cap against Tanzania in February but didn't do too much to set himself apart.

Hesham Salhe (Hilal Al-Quds, WBPL)- The diminutive midfielder started the first game against Bangladesh in Challenge Cup qualifying but played a total of three minutes over the next two games. He's a gritty player, but perhaps lacks the quality to cut it at international level.

Murad Ismail (Hilal Al-Quds, WBPL)- His claim to fame is the fact that he assisted on the majority of Murad Alyan's 20 league goals this season. He'll be in direct competition for a spot on the roster with Suleiman Obeid and Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb.

Suleiman Obeid (Al-Am'ary, WBPL)- Has often been fielded in a playmaking role by Bezaz but loses possession far too often to be depended on as a starter. His skills are better used on the wing but will face stiff competition to make the squad with Abu Bilal, Ismail Amour, and Ashraf Nu'man ahead of him in the pecking order.

Hicham Ali (Malmö FF/on loan to Rosengard)- Hicham Ali is continuing in his quest to break into the Malmö FF first team. Malmö has loaned out many promising youngsters to this third tier side for developmental purposes (Zlatan Ibrahimoviç being the most notorious of the bunch). Ali tracks back better than any Palestinian winger in the game today and could probably be dispatched as a left back if needed. A couple of issues arise in getting him to camp, the first is the fact that the Swedish league season is in action from April through November. The second issue is whether he will appear for the Olympic Team against Bahrain 10 days before the World Cup qualifiers.

Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb (Balta, WBPL)- Much like Ma'ly Kawre, Abuhabeeb has been denied the right to travel by Israel on more than one occasion. He is also one of the players who is on the brink of breaking into the full senior team, perhaps at the expense of the Olympic squad. He has been phenomenal with Balata this season- with 22 goals in all competitions- en route to a fourth place finish and a semifinal appearance in the FA Cup.

On the Plane!

Houssam Wadi (Jabal Al-Mokaber, WBPL)- Plays as a centreback with his club but has proved himself as the only player in the WBPL who can competently shield the defence and break up opposition attacks.

Ismail Amour (Jabal Al-Mokaber, WBPL)- Is a constant threat on the right side of midfield was at his best in the Challenge Cup at the heart of nearly every attacking move for Palestine.

Ashraf Nu'man (Wadi Al-Nes, WBPL)- Had a breakthrough season with Wadi Al-Nes and has proved himself capable of making the jump from the Olympic Squad. Might not start ahead of Imad Zatara (if he's included in the squad) but could provide a spark off the bench.

Khader Yousef (Wadi Al-Nes, WBPL)- Steady but not spectacular. Khader Yousef provided a steady stream of outlet passes to the wing during the Challenge Cup and covered a good amount of ground in all three games. Might be relegated to the bench behind Mohammed Samara.

Mohammed Samara (Arab Contractors, Egyptian Premier League)- Has been valiant in the fight to save Arab Contractors from relegation, great box to box midfielder with good attacking instincts. The only problem that could prevent him from joining training camp is the fact that the end of the Egyptian league has been pushed back to July 11th, Contractors will not do us any favors and will only release Samara once FIFA stipulates they must (4 days before the match).

Imad Zatara (Syrianska, Allsvenskan)- A very moody player who is known to be prone to turning down call-ups. Zatara will be forced to chose between club and country again with Syrianska in the middle of a relegation battle. Will be a definite starter if he does make the trip

Atef Abu Bilal (Dhahrieh, WBPL)- 14 league goals and an impressive performance at the Challenge Cup will be enough to clinch Abu Bilal a ticket.

The Dinosaur announces 16 man squad to face Lebanon

Mokhtar "The Dinosaur" Al-Talili has announced a squad of sixteen players to take on Lebanon's Olympic Team in Sidon on May 14th. The squad doesn't include any Jabal Al-Mokaber players who are set to represent Palestine at the AFC President's Cup this week in Myanmar. Also left out of the squad are all players who seem to be making the jump to the senior team this summer (Eyad Abugharqud, Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb). Despite reports to the contrary, I would be shocked to see Hicham Ali show up in Beirut for this game, seeing how the Swedish league is in full swing. There have been also reports of some Palestinians who ply their trade in Lebanon joining the fold.

Palestine Olympic squad vs. Lebanon
May 14th 1450 GMT
Sidon, Lebanon

Al-Am'ary: Nadeem Barghouthi (DF), ِAhmed Salameh (DF), Amr Abu Rwaies (GK)

Al-Bireh: Mustafa Abu Kweik (c) (DF)

Balata: Wasim Eqab (MF)

Merkaz Tulkarem: Khaled Salem (FW)

Shabab Al-Khaleel: Fayez Aslieh (MF), A'ed Al-Shaiokhy (DF)

Shabab Dhahrieh: Samaha Jabareen (DF)

Thaqafi Tulkarem: Laith Kharoub (FW), Salim Al-Darooby (MF), Rida Al-Da'mah (MF), Muath Mostafa (FW)

Wadi Al-Nes: Toufic Ali Yousef (GK), Amjad Zidan (MF), Jehad Saqr (FW)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

FP's WBPL Season Awards

What a season it has been! Merkaz Tulkarem made an improbable comeback to secure safety over Hilal Areeha and Asker. Abugharqud and Alyan are battling to become the league's Hadaf and hope their goals will be enough to hand their team the title. Balata came out of nowhere to finish in the league's top third, Al-Dhahrieh also made resurgent return after a miserable season last year. While Tarji Wadi Al-Nes have failed to meet the high preseason expectations after winning the Shield and Supercup. Last year's defending champions, Jabal Al-Mokaber, have been similarly disappointing- only securing Premiership survival on the penultimate day of the season. One wonders if they'll recover to put in a good showing at the AFC President's Cup next week.

For those of you who haven't been following the league, we've handed out awards for the best player, best young player, and have also selected a WBPL best XI:

Best Young Player (U-23):
Nominees: Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb (Midfielder/Balata) Eyad Abugharqud (Striker/Al-Am'ary) Yahya Sobakhi (Striker/Dhahrieh) Hesham Salhe (Midfielder/Hilal Al-Quds)
Nadim Barghouthi (Centreback/Al-Am'ary)

Winner: Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb

Abuhabeeb wins this award based on the fact that he is the reason why Balata will finish in the top third of the league. He scores goals, takes set pieces, sets teammates up, springs offsides traps, he does it all. Last season, Balata won the First Division thanks to his efforts and this year he has done them one better. The 21-year old Gazan was close to joining Shabab Al-Khaleel last year but the deal fell apart if he continues this form he won't be playing in Palestine much longer. He has 11 league goals to his name (21 in all competitions) and has also powered Balata to the semifinals of the FA Cup. Oh yeah, he also scored this goal to advance Palestine past Thailand in Olympic Qualifying.

Player of the Year:

Nominees: Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb (Midfielder/Balata) Eyad Abugharqud (Striker/Al-Am'ary), Murad Alyan (Striker, Hilal Al-Quds), Abduallah Saidawi (Goalkeeper, Hilal Al-Quds), Atif Abu Bilal (Winger/Striker, Dhahrieh)

Winner: Murad Alyan

If Hilal Al-Quds do recover to win the league it will be down to this man's amazing goalscoring form. 31 goals in all competitions, 18 in the WBPL, 11 in the FA Cup, and 2 in the Yasser Arafat Cup. What make his numbers even more impressive is the fact that the Jerusalem side does not have anyone else shouldering the load up top. In fact, Alyan has scored half of Hilal Al-Quds's league goals. His performances in a Palestine shirt have proven that 'Dado' is a player capable of playing at the highest level.

WBPL Team of the Year:

GK: Abdullah Saidawi (Hilal Al-Quds)
CB: Mohammed Al-Masri (Dhahrieh)
CB: Khaled Mahdi (Al-Am'ary)
CB: Haitham Dheeb (Hilal Al-Quds)
RM: Fadi Salím (Merkaz Tulkarem)
CM: Murad Ismail (Hilal Al-Quds)
CM: Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb (Balata)
LM: Ashraf Nu'man (Wadi Al-Nes)
ST: Atef Abu Bilal (Dharieh)
ST: Eyad Abugharqud (Al-Am'ary)
ST: Murad Alyan (Hilal Al-Quds)

Abdullah Saidawi was an easy pick at goalkeeper he has more clean sheets (12) and has only allowed a meager 13 goals in 21 games. The backline is made up of centrebacks that marshall the three best defenses in the league. Fadi Salím is included at the expense of Jabal Al-Mukaber's Ismail Amour partly due to his role in keeping Merkaz Tulkarem in the Premier League. In the season's final eitght weeks he was selected to Kooora's Team of the Week six times. Over that time period, Merkaz won 15 (4W 3D 1L) out of a possible 24 points to stay up The paltry six points (1 W 3D 10L) that Merkaz secured in the first 14 weeks were won on the back of goals scored by Salím. The lack of a holding midfielder in the lineup shows how badly Palestine need help at that position. Houssam Wadi, who plays that position with the national team was dispatched as a centreback for Jabal Al-Mokaber this season. No player had a more direct result on his team's fortunes than Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb. Without him, Balata would still be in the First Division. Ashraf Nu'man has been one of the few bright spots in Wadi Al-Nes's season his performances have attracted interest from Al-Ramtha and Al-Faisaly of the Jordanian Premier League. Atef Abu Bilal makes up one half of the best scoring duo in the WBPL, and after a slow start he has 11 goals in the last 12 matchdays. Eyad Abugharqud has scored 19 league goals and looks set to win the WBPL scoring title. Murad Alyan is right behind him at 18 goals but has a whopping 31 (compared to Abugharqud's 23) in all competitions.

West Bank Premier League enters its final week

The first year of fully-fledged professional football in the West Bank is coming to a a thrilling close. Week 22 of the West Bank Premier League is set up perfectly with half the games having direct bearing on the title and relegation races. Here is what you need to know heading into the final week of the season:

The Fight for Survival:

Merkaz Tulkarem vs. Asker (May 5th, 1500 GMT)
Merkaz Tulkarem (10th- 18 points) has been a completely different side since the league suspended activity for the AFC Challenge Cup. Since the break, the Samaritans have collected 12 out of a possible 21 points with only one loss in their final seven games. They drew last week against Balata to avoid relegation and will be guaranteed safety with a win. A draw could keep them up provided Hilal Areeha doesn't win. Merkaz Asker (Last- 17 points) have also been a different side since the break- a far worse one. Their slide has gifted Al-Bireh, Thaqafi, and even Jabal Al-Mukaber Premiership survival. The Nablus based side needs to win and even then could be relegated on goal differential if Hilal Areeha beat Wadi Al-Nes. It doesn't look good for Asker who have only mustered 3 out of a possible 21 points since the break.

Hilal Areeha vs. Wadi Al-Nes (May 5th, 1500 GMT)

Hilal Areeha expected to be here on the last week of the season, Wadi Al-Nes were expecting to be in contention for the title and had this game marked as an easy three points. Looking at Wadi Al-Nes's miserable campaign I think they had half the games marked as an easy three points. Wadi Al-Nes lost to the Jericho based side 1-0 on the opening day of the season and with their backs against the wall (of Jericho?) they'll need to repeat that performance

The Dead Rubbers:
Balata vs. Shabab Al-Khaleel (May 6th, 1500 GMT)
Thaqafi Tulkarem vs. Dhahrieh (May 6th, 1500 GMT)
Al-Bireh vs. Jabal Al-Mokaber (May 6th, 1500 GMT)

The Title Fight

Hilal Al-Quds vs. Merkaz Shabab Al-Am'ary (May 7th, 1700 GMT)

The FA has set aside this match to close out the week and the season and what a match it promises to be. Hilal Al-Quds will be kicking themselves for drawing Asker 2-2 in Week 20, and dropping points to Merkaz Tulkarem (1-1, Week 15), Thaqafi Tulkarem (1-1, Week 17), and Dhahrieh (0-0, Week 19). In contrast, Merkaz Al-Am'ary dropped points just once since the league returned to action in April (against Wadi Al-Nes, 0-0, Week 20). In all reality this league has become Al-Am'ary's to lose; they have one hand on the trophy and barring disaster should be crowned champions.

This begs the question- What can Hilal Al-Quds do to win the league? The answer is that they'll need to win by at least four goals. Al-Am'ary beat Hilal Al-Quds 3-2 in the first game of the season. They haven't lost all year and have the top scorer, Eyad Abugharqud (19 Goals), in their ranks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

CONFIRMED: Palestine to replace Thailand in Olympic Qualifiers second round


Kuala Lumpur: Palestine will replace Thailand in the second round of Asian qualifiers for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament 2012 after Thailand had to forfeit the first leg 3-0 for fielding an ineligible player.

Thailand defeated Palestine 1-0 in the first leg on 23 February and won the second leg on penalties (1-1aet; 5-6) on 9 March.

However, Thailand were adjudged by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and FIFA Appeals Committee to have fielded an ineligible player (Sutjarit Jantakol) in the first leg as he was suspended for the match after picking up a one-match suspension for violent conduct in the AFC U-19 Championship in 2008.

The Thailand FA’s appeal was overruled by the FIFA Appeals Committee and the match consequently awarded 0-3 to Palestine, who now qualify for the second round of the qualifying games with an aggregate 4-0 win over Thailand.

Palestine will replace Thailand and play Bahrain in the second round. The first leg takes place on 19 June while the second leg will be played on 23 June.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Palestine to replace Thailand in Olympic Qualifying?

FA President Jibril Rajoub alongside Olympic Team captain, Mustafa Abu Kweik and Manager Mokhtar "The Dinosaur" Al-Talili.

[UPDATE]: The Bangkok Post has confirmed the story. The Thai FA is appealing the decision.

For the past week or so there have been reports in the Palestinian media that Thailand had been suspended from Olympic qualifying for fielding ineligible players. For whatever reason, the AFC, the Thai FA have been mum on the issue so we are reluctant to declare this anything more than a rumor at this point.

The Gulf Daily News is now also reporting that Palestine will replace Thailand in the second round. If true, then the Olympic Team will face Bahrain over two legs, on June 19th and June 23rd. The location of both matches are up in the air, with Bahrain insisting once again they will not travel to the West Bank. For their part, Palestine could also protest playing in a country where 1 out of every 550 Bahrainis is now a political prisoner.

The interesting twist to this argument is whether or not we would want the distraction of an Olympic Qualifier in the same month our World Cup campaign kicks off. There are a couple of players who are on the brink of breaking into the senior squad. The three players that come to mind are Hicham Ali, Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb, and Eyad Abugharqud. It will be interesting to see what the coaches decide to with these players as it is a virtual impossibility to include them in both squads.

Abuhabeeb has been so dominant in the WBPL this season that I would not be surprised to see him force Suleiman Obeid out of the squad. Hicham Ali's versatility, his ability to keep possession, and the fact that he can track back and help out on that problematic left flank would also make him a welcome addition the national team. Eyad Abugharqud would be the easiest sacrifice seeing as how Murad Alyan, Ahmed Keshkesh, and Fahed Attal are ahead of him in the pecking order.