Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Moments of 2014

What a year it was for Palestinian Football! Check out our Top 10 list below....

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...

2015 Asian Cup Roster Finalized

Palestinian Talisman: Ashraf Nu'man
Ahmed El-Hassan and the Palestine Football Association have announced the finalized list of players who will take part in Al-Fida'i's inaugural Asian Cup campaign.

Palestine's initial roster of 27 was trimmed down to 23 players with the exclusion of Adham Abu Rwais, Ramzi Barakat, Matías Jadue, and Daniel Kabir Mustafá. 

The exclusion of the later two comes as a surprise with Jadue missing out due to issues with his nationality switch. Multiple sources had Daniel Kabir Mustafá joining up with the squad in Australia but he has also been left out of the squad. 

No 11th hour additions have been made to the squad although the PFA could have drawn from a preliminary list of 50 players (not released to the press). 

Out of the 23 players, six ply their trade abroad (in Egypt, Jordan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia & Sweden). 

Although most starters are expected to be drawn from the group of players retained after the failed 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign; there are signs that the staff has purposefully included young players in the team. Nine members of the squad are under the age of 25. Three players (Mahmoud Eid, Abed Jaber, and Mus'ab Al-Battat) are born in 1993 and are still eligible to turn out for the Olympic team alongside the squad's youngest player- third choice goalkeeper Rami Hamadeh (20). 

The squad's oldest player is Goalkeeper Ramzi Saleh (34) and he is also the most capped (107).

 The oldest outfield player is Raed Fares (32) followed by Murad Ismail who is six days his junior. 

Ashraf Nu'man is the top goalscorer in the squad (13) and could overtake Fahed Attal as Palestine's all-time leading scorer with a pair of goals Down Under.  

Full Squad after the jump... 

23 Tickets to Australia: Final Edition

Crunch time is fast approaching. The Asian Cup kicks off in just under 16 days. Palestine is set to travel in less than a week's time and before that happens. There are officially 26 names under consideration, unless Ahmed El-Hassan changes his mind and pulls a fast one. Here they are ranked in order of most to least likely to make the squad: 

Squad rank after the jump...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fan Power: Ashraf Nu'man, Abuhabib suspensions overturned by AFC

This past week we received troubling communication that national team stalwarts Ashraf Nu'man and Abdelhamid Abuhabib would not be able to play due to yellow cards picked up in the Challenge Cup semifinal and final. 

Full story after the jump...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rapid Reaction: China 0:0 Palestine (Friendly)

Palestine were bland offensively, much like their uniforms. 

Palestine Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Saleh (C); Al-Battat, Harbi, Bahdari, Jaber; Ihbeisheh, Salhe, Ismail, Abuhabib; Amour, Eid. 

Substitutes: Ismail Amour <--> Ahmed Maher // Jaka Ihbeisheh <-> Husam Abu Saleh  // Mahmoud Eid <--> Khaled Salem // Abdelhamid Abuhabib <--> Khader Yousef  // 

Full Highlights & Recap after the jump...

Preview: China vs. Palestine (Friendly)

What: International Friendly 
Where: Chenzhou, Palestine 
When: December 21, 2014
Kickoff: 1130 GMT 

TV: BeIn Sports 9 

Full squad and preview after the jump....

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Countdown to Australia [22 days]: Recapping the road to the Asian Cup

With less than a month to go until Palestine's Asian Cup debut, it might be worth looking back at the matches that got us here. On the surface Palestine's 2014 AFC Challenge Cup campaign could look like a walk in the park with no goals conceded and minimal drama in the key fixtures. The reality is it was a solid squad with a great tactician at the helm navigating through a diverse set of opponents.

Read on to find a compilation of match highlights (courtesy of the AFC Hub) with links to our match reports - along with a little commentary.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Palestine narrowly fall to Uzbekistan 0-1 in Dubai

Palestine Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Toufic Ali; Al-Battat, Harbi, Saleh, Jaber; Salhe, Ismail; Ihbeisheh, Abuhabib, Amour; Eid. 

Also Participating: Khaled Salem, Khader Yousef, Mahmoud Sheikhqasem, Husam Abu Saleh, Musa Abujazr Ahmed Maher. 

The national team got a pomp ceremonial send-off in the Grand Park hotel in Ramallah last Wednesday before the players flew to Dubai where they were joined by Mahmoud Eid and Jaka Ihbeisheh.

The squad's readiness was soon put to the test with a friendly against the ever-stalwart Uzbeks. Since the match, which was played on a UAE FA training pitch, was not televised, we cannot say much about the play by play. But going by sources in the stands, Uzbekistan dominated the proceedings on the pitch with some bright sparks coming from the Palestine side. Ismail Amour proved a menace to the Uzbek defense only to be stretchered off after a particularly harsh tackle in the second half with his Asian Cup hopes in the balance. Uzbekistan's sustained pressure finally paid off in the 82nd minute when they got the winner despite claims that Ahmed Harbi was fouled in the lead up to the goal.

For a friendly against a top four Asian side at this stage of preparation, the result is not too bad. Especially considering that Numan, Bahdarai, Norambuena, DKM, and Jadue are yet to join the squad.

Next up, Palestine travel to Chenzhou to face China.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sameh Mar'aba Freed!

Sameh (L) being welcomed by his brother 
The Israeli Defense Forces have freed national team and Islami Qalqilya forward Sameh Mar'aba eight months after illegally detaining him. The promising young player was released from military detention just north of Nablus after an eight month detention which saw his 30-day term renewed eight times.

Mar'aba's family has decorated the streets of the town of Qalqilya to celebrate their son's return. Mara'aba was originally arrested upon his return from a national team training camp in Qatar at the Karameh border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.

His arrest on the 28th of April prevented him from traveling with the team to the Maldives for the 2014 Challenge Cup and has also cost him a spot at the 2014 Asian Games and 2015 Asian Cup.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Palestine voted 2014 AFC National Team of the Year

Manila: Palestine, champions of the last edition of the AFC Challenge Cup, have been named as the AFC National Team of the Year at the AFC Annual Awards gala in the Philippine capital city on Sunday.
The West Asian national side beat the Philippines 1-0 in a thrilling finale in the Maldives last May, punching the last ticket available for the continent’s national team flagship competition, the AFC Asian Cup 2015 to be held in Australia.
A second half free-kick from tournament leading scorer Ashraf Nu'man proved the difference as Palestine won over the Philippines at the National Stadium.
Nu'man crucially netted his fourth goal of the tournament a minute before the hour mark as Palestine completed an unbeaten campaign without conceding a goal, sealing a place in a tough Group D in the AFC Asian Cup alongside defending champions Japan, Jordan and 2007 winners Iraq.
The Jamal Mahmoud-led (who was also nominated for 2014 AFC Manager of the Year) side’s historic AFC Challenge Cup victory was hailed as the best ever day in Palestine's football history.
"I do believe it is recognition by the AFC family that football in Palestine is developing and that the Palestinian football family is committed to promoting ethics and values in the game," said  President of Palestinian Football Association  Jibril Rajoub.
"I see it as a clear-cut message to the people of Palestine and the Palestinian footballers that promoting such ethics and values is the right way to make business in the Middle East."