Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Calendar

Nepal 2012: March 8-19th

The most important tourney in 2012 for the Palestinian National Team is the Challenge Cup, due to be held in Nepal in six weeks. The eventual winner will qualify directly for the 2015 Asian Cup, so for all those involved it is akin to a condensed Asian Cup Qualifying campaign. Palestine has been placed in Group A alongside the Maldives, 2010 Finalists Turkmenistan and hosts Nepal. You can read more about the tournament here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ali El-Khatib on the verge of controversial move to Hapoel Haifa

Ali El-Khatib during his trial at Hapoel Haifa

[UPDATE 01/28/2012]: Ali El-Khatib made his debut against Maccabi Netanya coming off the bench in the second half.

Ali El-Khatib has caused quite a stir this season. The 22 year-old winger has been nothing short of superlative on the pitch- representing Palestine in Olympic and World Cup qualifying and scoring the match-winning goals against Bahrain and Sudan. Off the pitch, it has been no less eventful for the youngster. In the past six months he: 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mahmoud hands opportunity to fringe players

Newly acquired Jabal Al-Mukaber goalkeeper Majdi Khalaila

Jamal Mahmoud has begun working out which 23 players to take to Nepal with their opening game against the hosts less than 50 days away. Due to the tournament not being held in the summer (or coinciding with any FIFA match dates) Palestine will be without most, if not all, their foreign-based players. Mahmoud is expected to rely on the same core of players that advanced to the semifinals of last month's Pan-Arab games. That said, changes should be expected,which is why Jamal Mahmoud is holding a camp for 24 WBPL and Palestinian First Division players who have yet to feature in official matches.

The list is made up of some prominent players such as Khaled Mahdi who started two World Cup qualifiers and Olympic Team starlet Abdelhamid Abuhabib. The players will meet up tomorrow for a training session at the Faisal Al-Husseini Memorial Stadium. Preparations for the Challenge Cup should kickoff after the 13th Round of WBPL matches are concluded on February 4th. Here is the list in full:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Interview: Roberto 'The Maestro' Kettlun

The current surge of able midfielders notwithstanding, we have yet to see a player in the mold of Roberto Kettlun wear the Palestine shirt. Making his debut in the 2002 Pan-Arab cup in Kuwait, the Chilean-Palestinian wowed audiences with his precision passing and play-maker vision. Our friend Amin Ziad got in touch with him on behalf of Football Palestine to catch up and talk about his time with the National Team. Here is the text of the correspondence. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Palestine to face Azerbaijan in Dubai

Palestine will make history once again next month when it faces its first UEFA side since re-entering FIFA in 1998. The friendly will take place next month on the first official FIFA match day of 2012 (February 29th) with Dubai playing host to both teams. 

The team will use the fixture to prepare for the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup while Azerbaijan is looking to stay sharp ahead of UEFA World Cup qualification in September. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Two months in, Jamal Mahmoud has outdone predecessors and colleagues

It takes time to build a national team. It also takes vision, superior communication skills, and a little bit of luck as well. At the time of writing, many of the world's most established sides are in transition. Argentina, Egypt, the United States, and even mighty Brazil are searching for an identity and for the right mix of players. Chances are by the time the 2014 World Cup rolls around these teams will be ready if their current managers are given time to see their projects through.

What Mahmoud has been able to do with the team is nothing short of miraculous, more established managers have failed with more time and more talent. Just look at the African sides at the 2010 World Cup- Nigeria and Cameroon had manageable groups but their newly appointed managers Lars Lagerb├Ąck and Paul Le Guen failed to win a game. Closer to home, the struggles of Saudi Arabia in World Cup qualifying are proof positive that it takes months, if not years, to build a national team.