Thursday, December 25, 2014

Palestine Squad Analysis

A Possible Starting XI? 
In a word, Palestine 2015 AFC Asian Cup squad announcement was a disappointment. The moment the final whistle blew in Malé we were left salivating at the prospect of finally having our best players together, on the pitch, at the same time.

A lot of things conspired to ensure that that would not happen. Imad Zatara's injury was the first blow and shortly thereafter Jamal Mahmoud resigned his post after three very successful years.

New management means new ideas, new players, and a new way of going about moulding a team out of the latter two. Ahmad El-Hassan is within his rights to do all that but some of his decisions are really hard to understand.

Full Analysis after jump...




Notable Absences


 Imad Khalili was the player most Palestinian fans wanted to see suit up in 2014 and we were strung along for the entire year. His interview with FIFA.com was almost cruel, how could a player talk up our chances and mysteriously disappear? The PFA has not elaborated on what happened with his courtship.

Although, Imad Khalili fell by the wayside- new players did join up. Javier Cohene is perhaps of a higher caliber and in his 20 minutes in a national team shirt he scored a goal and kept a clean sheet- not too shabby. Cohene's recruitment was the result of Abdullah Al-Farra's (Jamal Mahmoud's team manager) hard work in the scouting department. None of us at Football Palestine had the slightest idea he was originally Palestinian. When he committed to Palestine a follower of the Paraguayan national team spoke of his disappointment at losing the centreback. His absence is as perplexing as it is disappointing.

The most unexpected name left off the list? Daniel Kabir Mustafá. In 180 minutes played with Abdelatif Bahdari- the duo have allowed one goal. He has two clean sheets to his credit at 2012 and 2014 WAFF Championships and he was an important part of his club team- Atletico Venezuela. As recently as yesterday it was communicated to me that he would be part of the squad and that he would fly directly to Australia. His absence may forever remain an unsolved mystery.

The absences of Cohene and Mustafa make Omar Jarun's absence questionable. He might be the fifth choice CB with those two included by without the Latin American pair he would have provided the perfect insurance policy should something happen to Abdelatif Bahdari.

Then you have incompetence personified. The PFA had plenty of lead time to get Matías Jadue's paperwork in order and they found out minutes before kickoff versus China that he could not be used. Whatever mad scramble occurred this week to ensure his ability has fallen short. After such a negative experience one would hope that Jadue would still want to play for Palestine going forward.

Ramzi Barakat's inclusion was a surprise; him not being in the squad was not, perhaps he can leverage this experience going forward. Playing in Spain is certainly an experience that can make any player better.

Adham Abu Rwais was the final name left off the squad and it seems that he was sacrificed because Ahmed El-Hassan aims to shut up shop Down Under. He was always going to be a wild card but his understanding with Abdelhamid Abuhabib could have made him an asset coming off the bench.

Also missing out is Hilal Musa who was spectacular during the Asian Games. Reports say that Ahmed El-Hassan refused to call him up after he didn't show up for training camp in October (he had suffered a broken hand). For whatever reason, the brouhaha that also involved Murad Ismail was resolved but Hilal Musa was given no stay of execution. As a result Abdelhamid Abuhabib will be the team's only CAM in Australia.

Surprising Inclusions 


Tamer Salah's first national team cap came against Vietnam against November. Given the sheer amount of big name centerback defenders he seemed a near certainty to be culled from the roster. Against all odds though the late-blooming 28 year old defender is going to Australia. Should something happen to one of the starters (Dheeb/Bahdari), he might even play! 

Palestine have a clear lack of options when it comes to out-and-out forwards. So it stands to reason that a whole host should have been brought into camp to see if an effective solution could be found. Palestine's leading scorers in the WBPL (not to mention the Gazan league) were completely ignored. Instead, Khaled Salem who has one unofficial goal (against Malaysia in a match that was struck from FIFA's record) in his national team career has been called in. He didn't show much of anything in the four matches he played but he will now have fans hoping he can reach the potential that sometimes shows up. Did I mention that he is mostly used as a defender at club level? 

Right Backs! 

Alexis Norambuena, Raed Fares, Mus'ab Al-Battat, and Ahmed Harbi have all been included in the squad. The later will most likely act as cover for the CBs; but would it not have been wiser to make a choice between Raed Fares and Mus'ab Al-Battat? 

A bold move would have been ditching Raed Fares who has been steady over the years and looking to the future with Al-Battat. 

Alternatively, you could have kept Raed Fares as an option at left back if you believed he offered more than Musa Abu Jazr (who is listed as a defender). 

Taking four right backs is ludicrous decision that shows a lack of foresight. Did I mention that Husam Abu Saleh can also play the position in a pinch? 

How will they line up against Japan? 

Khader Yousef seems to have been dropped in favor of Hesham Salhe as the midfielder has started the last three friendlies for Palestine. That said, this could be the game that sees Khader start- or we might see all three start together in an effort to clog up the midfield. 

The only other question is does Ashraf play on the wing or does he switch positions with Mahmoud Eid. Given his defensive work rate I could see Jaka Ihbeisheh get the nod ahead of Ismail Amour.