Thursday, October 30, 2014

27 Players in squad to face Saudi Arabia & Vietnam

Surprise Call-up: Eid (c) will be looked for for goals.
Ahmad El-Hassan has called up 28 players, nine of whom ply their trade abroad, for next month's upcoming friendlies versus Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

Abdelatif Bahdari, Ashraf Nu'man, and Ramzi Saleh will join WBPL-based players for an internal training camp. The squad will then travel to Saudi Arabia on November 2nd where they will meet up with the rest of the foreign contingent. 

Palestine are set to face Saudi Arabia and Vietnam on November 6th and 9th, respectively. An additional friendly vs. Thailand was cancelled due to the PFA's refusal to travel to Thailand. 

Three new players are set to debut with the national team all of whom play abroad. Mahmoud Eid and Imad Khalili are set to bolster Palestine's attack. 

Khalili's debut has been anticipated ever since his loan stint at Al-Shabab in the the Saudi Pro League. Mahmoud Eid, on the other hand, came out of nowhere- the 21-year old currently suits up for Nyk√∂ping BIS in the Swedish third tier. His recent form has been excellent with three goals to his name in his last five games. 

Daniel Kabir Mustaf√° was called-up for this series of friendlies but declined for uncited reasons. Other notable absences include Adham Abu Rwais and Hilal Musa. While Tamer Salah continues to be preferred over the likes of the more established Khaled Mahdi. 

After a lengthy spell on the sidelines it has been confirmed that Imad Zatara will indeed miss the Asian Cup. Palestine's leading scorer Fahed Attal seems also destined to miss the tournament with his form at Shabab Al-Khaleel failing to convince the coaching staff. 

Also on the injury front, Alexis Norambuena made his return to the pitch for GKS Belchatow this week and should get a run out. Javier Cohene, might be a late scratch having picked up an injury in training with his club side Borac Cacak. 

Full Squad After the Jump... 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Is Ahmed El-Hassan really Palestine's new manager?

Ahmed El-Hassan rocking some free AFC swag

Palestine are on the verge of making history with their participation in their first ever major international tournament. Unfortunately, Jamal Mahmoud's sudden resignation has left them scrambling to find a manager capable of selecting, preparing, and leading a group of 23 players who will be viewed by hundreds of millions of people across the Asian continent. 

More after the jump...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Countdown to Australia [84 days]: Getting around

Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation back in 2007 after forty years of being a big whale in the small ocean of the OFC. With their only real competitor being New Zealand. and qualifying matches which saw them set records (the famous 31-0 vs. Samoa which inspired the title for James Montagues recent world cup book), they decided being in the OFC was holding them back. The OFC's "1/2" spot in the world cup didn't do them any good either having only qualified as an OFC member twice in 1974 and 2006 (they have a 100% qualifying record since joining the AFC). Australia reached the final of the 2011 Asian Cup but lost 1-0 to Japan. Australia was the sole bidder to host the 2015 edition and is eyeing winning the trophy at home.

Needless to say, it will be a special tournament for Palestine as well. And who would've thought we'd have to fly all the way to Australia to watch our nation's first Asian Cup. If you plan on making the trip, this post is for you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Takeaways from Palestine's Tour of South Asia

Ashraf Nu'man opens the scoring against India
It's hard to gauge a team when logistics prevent you from watching their last four friendlies. Needless to say, Palestine are not flying high as they were on May 30th, 2014. In the long run, a dose of realism might be what the team needs in order to realize the task ahead of them. Here is what we learned from the friendlies against India and Pakistan:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Countdown to Australia [93 days]: A look at Group D

In a few months time, Palestine will be playing on Asia's biggest stage, something we've aspired to since re-joining FIFA. Happy as we are to be here, we are in it to get results.

Of course, Group D is no cakewalk!

Monday, October 6, 2014

23 Tickets to Australia: Palestine prepare for South Asian Tests

A Palestine squad featuring mostly WBPL players jetted off to India earlier this week to continue Asian Cup preparations. Leading the side for the first time will be interim manager and former National Team captain, Saeb Jendeya.

Palestine had originally scheduled a double-header against India (on the 6th and 9th) and Pakistan (on the 12th and 14th) but were forced by FIFA to amend the schedule. As a result, they will play India on the 6th and then face Pakistan on the 14th- perhaps sneaking in a non-official match between one of the two sides somewhere in between.

In another sign of the PFA's ineptitude the canceling of the second India friendly leaves India without an opponent for one of the match days. They will no doubt be furious as they turned down an opportunity to play Malaysia on October 9th. Whatever goodwill might have existed between the two federations is probably now in short supply.

Palestine last faced India in February 2012 in an encounter marked by a sensational Ashraf Nu'man hattrick which overshadowed Palestine's lackadaisical defensive approach in the first half.

Although Palestine did not concede a goal en route to Asian Cup qualification (over an eight game span) shocking defensive performances have reared their head from time to time. This was the case last month as Palestine struggled against Myanmar and Chinese Taipei.

A good performance is a must given that the side has more than a few hour preparation under its belt as well as the benefit of playing a month's worth of club football.

Full Squad + Analysis After the jump....