Saturday, November 27, 2010

A bad week for Roberto Bishara & Ramzi Saleh

Just a quick update to let you know what's going on in the world of Palestinian Football:

Several Spanish language agencies have reported that Roberto Bishara had a mixup with the law this past week and much of his troubles stem from the fact that our FA are run by a bunch of monkeys. Bishara was on a plane headed to Lod Airport when he got a phone call informing him that our friendly with Gambia had been cancelled. Bishara, wanting to avoid the unnecessary trip (and hostile Israeli interrogation) tried to deplane. In his attempt to explain his situation, the crew flagged him for suspicious behavior and one flight attendant even went so far as to alert other passengers over the PA system. Bishara was eventually allowed to deplane and was allowed to go home by the authorities after explaining his predicament. He played a crucial role in Palestino's 0-0 draw against La Serena at the weekend, clearing a ball off the line. Roberto has stated that he is considering taking legal action against the airline.

Ramzi Saleh has reached the point of no return with his club Al-Merreikh after their 3-2 loss to archrivals Al-Hilal cost them them the title. Ramzi had been struggling with injury issues which resulted in a poor showing by his standards. It has gotten so bad that Saleh is now experiencing abuse from his own fans and will not be included in the squad for the Sudanese Cup Final. Al-Merreikh are now seriously considering releasing the player to avoid paying his high wages, around $10,000/month with additional bonuses that bring the figure close to $500,000/year. If Ramzi were to be released he has no shortage of suitors, it is expected that he will return to Egypt and field any potential offers. Rumor has it that Harras Al-Hodoud and Ittihad Alexanderia are leading the race for his signature.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Preview: Palestine vs. Golan Heights

This was the first hit on Google Images for "Golan Heights Football Team"

What: Unofficial Friendly
Where: Hebron (Al-Khaleel), Palestine
When: 17/11/2010 1500 GMT
TV: Palestine TV (?)

So after the cancellations of Central African Republic and Gambia the FA was left scrambling to find a team to play on November 17. The FA believes that Israel played a role in CAR canceling the friendly, while Gambia was forced to cancel after half the players it called up were "unavilable". So to replace our not-so-illustrious African opponents the FA has set up a friendly with a team from the occupied Golan Heights. Very little is known about this team other than the fact that they aren't FIFA affiliated.

Palestine Squad:

GK: Mohammed Shbair (Shabab Al-Khaleel), Abdullah Saidawi (Hilal Al-Quds), Saed Abu Sleem (Balata)
DF: Majed Abusidu (Tadamon, Kuwait), Roberto Bishara (Palestino, Chile), Abdelatif Bahdari (Wehdat, Jordan), Ahmad Harbi, Khaled Mahdi ( both Al-Am'ary), Samer Hijazi (Jabal Al-Mokaber), Haitham Dheeb (Hilal Al-Quds)
MF: Mohammed Samara (Arab Contractors, Egypt), Imad Zatara (Syrianska, Sweden), Houssam Wadi (Jabal Al-Mokaber), Murad Said (Hilal Al-Quds), Khader Youssef (Wadi Al-Nes), Ayman El-Hendi (Shabab Al-Khaleel), Atef Abu Bilal (Dhahrieh), Jamal Alan (Jabal Al-Mokaber)
FW: Fahed Attal (Wehdat, Jordan), Mohammed Shatrit (JA Drancy, France), Ashraf Nu'man (Wadi Al-Nes), Eyad Abugharqud (Al-Am'ary), Murad Alyan (Hilal Al-Quds)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thoughts on Palestine's Asian Games performance

So as many of you know, Palestine failed in its attempt to qualify for the Asian Games knockout stage. Many of our readers have expressed disappointment in the performances against the two Koreas, but in all reality our hopes were dashed when Ali El-Khatib missed his penalty against Jordan. Palestine dominated their first match, outclassing a better funded rival in every aspect, and managing to beat them out for third place (by virtue of goal differential) in the group.

It is important to put results in perspective, fans seem not to recall Palestine's 2006 Asian Games performance. Allow me to refresh our collective memories, three games, three losses against far weaker opposition: 1-0, 2-0, & 3-0 respectively against Thailand, Kuwait, and Kyrgyzstan, respectively. That team had the likes of Fahed Attal, Ahmed Keshkesh and Abdelatif Bahdari but those players only grew into the players they are today after the experience. Attal was on the radar of a lot of clubs thanks to his Challenge Cup Golden Boot, but Bahdari and Keshkesh would have never become stars in Jordan with Wehdat if it wasn't for the West Bank Premier League. That is what separates this generation of players from the previous one, they have more resources and an actual league to play in.

The future is brighter in terms of youth development. Although we have nostalgia for the days of Azmi Nassar, Alfred Riedl, and our South American contingent it is important to realize that we didn't have a particularly deep pool of players. I think that is beginning to change and there are a couple of players in this Olympic side that are ready to make the step to the senior team (The Dinosaur said that half his squad deserved to be in the national team).

At the same time we must also remind ourselves that our two losses came at the hands of two teams that are just further along than us development wise. South Korea is without a doubt the best team in Asia and their Northern counterparts fielded a squad with 9 World Cup participants. A result against either side would have been a massive upset but it just was never going to happen. I'll gladly take our third place finish if it means our senior team gets five or six new players. I'm also happy to take our experience at the Asiad and use it to prepare for the Olympic Qualifiers against Thailand* next year.

*Thailand finished second in its group beating Pakistan 6-0 and drawing 1-1 and 0-0 against Oman and Maldives respectively.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Palestine draw their opening match of the Asian Games

Toufic Ali (GK); Shubietha, Barghouthi, Mustafa Abu Kweik, Sajid Karkara; Amjad Zidan, Wasim Aqab, Suleiman Obeid, Moh'd Abadi, Ali El-Khatib; Mohammed Jamal.

In the other match in this group a 10-man DPR Korea held on to win 1-0 over Korea Republic. The North Koreans have one of the more experienced squads in the tournament with 10 players having been on the World Cup squad this past summer.

Up Next: 10/11 vs. DPR Korea 1100 GMT

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Olympic Team finishes Asian Games prep by routing Al-Taawon

The young Fursan look like they will be headed to Guangzhou not only to make up the numbers but to put up a fight as well. Fresh off their 2-0 win of Al-Hatta the Olympic side decimated Taawon (a team outside the top two tiers, but still*...) 8-2. The Dinosaur didn't really tinker with his lineup he played a 4-2-3-1 that featured:

Toufic Ali (GK)/Ahmed Shubeita, Mustafa Abu Kweik, Nadim Barghouthi, Mahmoud Abadi/Amjad Zidan, Sajid Karkara/Ali El-Khatib, Suleiman Obeid, Wasim Aqab/Mohammed Jamal.

The only changes were positional- Ali El-Khatib playing further deep, Obeid in the playmaking role, and Mohammed Jamal as a lone striker.

The first half ended with Palestine up 2-1 El-Khatib netted the opener and Obeid scored a beauty from outside the box.

In the second half, The Dinosaur one again cleared the bench. Substitute Jehad Saqr netted a hattrick while Obeid and El-Khatib both bagged second goals. Amjad Zidan, who had a great performance in the heart of midfield, also got on the score sheet.

The Dinosaur said the team are functioning on a high level thanks to a killer instinct coupled with high fitness levels and good chemistry.

The Asian Games Football Tournament begins on November 8th.

Palestine's schedule:

8/11 v. Jordan 1900 (+8 GMT)
10/11 v. Korea DPR 1900 (+8 GMT)
13/11 v. Korea Republic 1900 (+8GMT)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Asian Games Preparation

The Olympic Team is in Dubai preparing for the Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou later this month. Mokhtar Al-Talili (henceforth known by his nickname- The Dinosaur) has got the young guns playing quite well. The team beat Jordan in Al-Ram last month and seem to be improving and gaining confidence thanks to the WBPL and regular meet ups staged by The Dinosaur.

The team had its first official warm-up game over the weekend and swept aside Dubai-based club Hatta (they play in the second tier of Emirati Football). The goals came from Suleiman Obeid and Ali El-Khatib. The Dinosaur seems to have settled on a 4-2-3-1 formation using the speed and skill of the two overage players-Obeid and Mohammed Jamal- on the wings.

The only bad news from camp was the fact that Balata Maestro "Abu-Habeeb" wasn't allowed to travel by Israeli Occupation Authorities. The talented youngster currently leads the WBPL in assists and would have been a major asset to have.

As for the game, reports say that Palestine thoroughly dominated and that the newcomer- Jehad Neshbit who plays professionally in Sweden- impressed and The Dinosaur is considering using him for the Olympic Qualifiers. Palestine's starting line-up featured Toufic Ali in goal with Mustafa Abu Kwiek and Nadim Barghouthi in front of him. Sajid Karakara and Ahmad Shubeita featured as wingbacks with 'Ala Yamen and Wasim Aqab sheilding the defence. The front four featured Obeid and Jamal on the wings with Mohammed Khweis playing behind the lone front man, Ali El-Khatib. The second half saw Palestine empty the bench giving an opportunity to the aforementioned Neshbit along with: Amjad Zidan, Hamza Wahdan, Thaer Qarain, Jehad Saqr, Mahmoud Al-Abadi, and back-up keeper Jamal Abu Safqa.

Not participating in this game were Rafit Eyad and Hisham Ali (another player who plays professionally in Sweden). They have since joined the squad and should probably feature in the next warm-up game against Taawon.