Surprise! Alexis Norambuena makes his return to the national team
Jamal Mahmoud has called up 24 players to participate in the upcoming Arab Cup on Nations due to be held in Saudi Arabia from June 22 - July 6. Since taking the helm in November 2011, Mahmoud has been unable to call upon the services of Abdelatif Bahdari but the Hajer defender is included in this month's squad. Omar Jarun gets a call-up for just a third time under Mahmoud, whose teams have kept two clean sheets in previous games when Jarun has featured (a 2-0 win vs. Azerbaijan and a 0-0 draw vs. Qatar).
The surprise call-up is Alexis Norambuena who last played for Palestine nine years ago under Nicola Shahwan. He has five caps to his name- all part of 2004 Asian Cup qualifying against Qatar (2), Kuwait, and Singapore (2). An extremely versatile player, Norambuena can play in any position across the back line but will probably lineup as a left back for Palestine. His move to Poland has helped him grow as a player and he has amassed more than 100 league appearances for Jagiellonia Bialystok whilst also picking up some Europa League experience along the way.
Four years ago Norambuena stated his intention to play for Chile, hoping that his move abroad might help his national team aspirations. Marcelo Bielsa overlooked him during qualification for the 2010 World Cup and he hasn't received much attention under new management either [ed. Probably because he has played official matches for Palestine!]. Chile's depth at the position is Palestine's gain who now have two outside backs with Europa League experience (Husam Abu Saleh being the other) alongside Omar Jarun and Abdelatif Bahdari. If Norambuena plays he'll enter the record books for the longest time between two caps (9 years).
Competition for places in midfield should be fierce with Imad Zatara and Ismail Amour being pushed by Ashraf Nu'man and Husam Abu Saleh. Fahed Attal should start as the lone striker in a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation with either Mohammed Samara or Abdelhamid Abuhabib in support. With Mahmoud able to call on Jarun and Bahdari in defence he might start a more creative player (most likely Kettlun) alongside one of Ismail/Wadi/Youssef.
Notable absentees are WBPL top scorer Murad Alyan, his Hilal Al-Quds teammate Haitham Dheeb, Al-Am'ary forward Ahmed Keshkesh, newly signed Shabab Al-Khaleel winger Atef Abu Bilal, and Palestino (Chile) defender Roberto Bishara who was probably omitted due to the fact that he has only played in two games with his club this season. Despite stating his intention to call-up Lebanon based Ibrahim Swidan, Mustafa Hallaq, Mohammad Abu Ateeq, Haitham Khaduj, and Mohammed Ghannam all remain conspicuously absent.
The squad is as follows:
Ramzi Saleh, Smouha FC/EGY
Toufic Ali, Tarji Wadi Al-Nes/PLE
Mohammed Shbair, Shabab Al-Khaleel/PLE
Abdelatif Bahdari, Hajer FC/KSA
Omar Jarun, Arka Gdynia/POL
Alexis Norambuena, Jagiellonia Bialystok/POL
Musa Abu Jazr, Shabab Al-Khaleel/PLE
Nadim Barghouthi, Shabab Al-Khaleel/PLE
Abdesallam El-Sweikeri, Shabab Al-Khaleel/PLE
Ra'fit Eyad, Jabal Al-Mukaber/PLE
Raed Fares, Hilal Al-Quds/PLE
Roberto Kettlun, Brindisi/ITA
Mohammed Samara, Misr Lel Makasa/EGY
Imad Zatara, Sanat Naft/IRN
Abdelhamid Abuhabib, Shabab Al-Khaleel/PLE
Husam Abu Saleh, Hilal Al-Quds/PLE
Ismail Amour, Al-Am'ary/PLE
Murad Ismail, Hilal Al-Quds/PLE
Ma'ly Kawre', Al-Am'ary/PLE
Ashraf Nu'man, Tarji Wadi Al-Nes/PLE
Houssam Wadi, Ittihad Shajeeya/PLE
Khader Youssef, Tarji Wadi Al-Nes/PLE
Khaldoun Al-Halman, Ahli Al-Khaleel/PLE
Fahed Attal, Shabab Al-Khaleel/PLE
Captain: Ramzi Saleh
Most Caps: Ramzi Saleh (71)
Most Goals: Fahed Attal (14)