Monday, March 23, 2009

The Countdown has Begun

There are only days left before Palestine's long anticipated opening Challenge Cup qualifier match against group hosts Nepal. The preparation has been long and exhaustive and we are yet to see if it will all payoff. After successive training camps in Ramallah, Amman and Dubai, the squad(except for Fahd Attal who will catch up) took off for Kathmandu on Saturday from Dubai going through Doha, Qatar.
The Palestinian press' mood ranges from cautious to optimistic. Ashraf Matar, the reporter embedded with the national team, reports that the morale in the camp is high. The majority of the squad play in the domestic league. Foreign league players include Roberto Bishara of Palestino Santiago in Chile, Majed Abu Sido of Salmiya in Kuwait, Fahd Attal who plays for Jazira in Jordan and national team captain Ahmed Keshkesh who just recently moved to Jordan's Shabab Al-Ordon.
There have been no past first-team encounters between Nepal and Palestine however they have played on the olympic level(Palestine winning). If we look at the two team's international records, Palestine clearly has the upper hand, however that doesnt put us in the clear. Thursday's match will be a real mental test playing against the hosts in the 25,000 seater Dasarath Rangasala Stadium.