Friday, September 11, 2015

Rapid Reaction: Palestine 0:0 UAE (2018 World Cup Qualifying)

Palestine Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Toufic Ali; Alexis, Dheeb, Salah, Jaber; Imad Zatara, Darwish, Tamburrini, Ihbeisheh; Mar'aba; Jadue. 

Cautions: Darwish 28', Ihbeisheh 43' 

Substitutions: Jaka Ihbeisheh <-> Tamer Seyam 61' // Sameh Mar'aba <-> Mahmoud Eid 73' // Khader Yousef <-> Pablo Tamburrini 83' //

Full Highlights and more after the jump... 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Far away from Melbourne

Thirteen thousand seven hundred and seven kilometers.

That's the distance from Jerusalem to Melbourne.  And I think we can all agree we felt the magnitude of the distance today. Not strictly in a geographic sense.

Of course I am referring to a memorable (for the wrong reasons) Asian Cup encounter with regional rivals Jordan eight months ago. The venue, Melbourne's photogenic AAMI Park stadium. Palestine took a rather expected beating from tournament favorites Japan in the group opener four days prior. Not too big a deal, we weren't expecting much of a result anyways, but we knew there was no room for dropping any more points. The lead up to the tournament was filled with mismanagement and a little bad luck, but we kept an optimistic outlook anyways.

I took my seat close to the pitch, right near the middle to witness the action up close and personal. As the game progressed, I realized I chose the worst seat in the house for that exact reason. Its never pleasant to watch your team get torn apart. The Australian fellow sitting next to me remarked (as many do ) that "playing in the Asian Cup is an achievement in itself". I explained that we are a point where we expect more - and not of delusion.

It was a big blow. All our hopes for the national team were in the hands of an incompetent football association that couldn't even give us a decent showing on the continental stage. The most zealous of fans were turned to cynics.

Fast forward to Palestine's first home match after the fiasco down under. The qualifying campaign so far has been decent to say the least. Playing away from home, Palestine was only edged by Saudi Arabia, and won by six in Malaysia. As opposed to the Asian Cup days, a capable manager has been at the helm with the resources and time to build a team. This is evident in the lineup, rather than a model overly reliant on one superstar, you have a solid group.

What we got today was a good result against one of Asia's best sides. Even better, a full stadium backing our boys. I bet the players felt a world away from Melbourne. But then again, maybe not completely. One thing you can't forget is the thousands of fans cheering until the final whistle and all the way out of AAMI Park.

Preview: Palestine vs. UAE (2018 World Cup Qualifier)

Palestine hosts UAE in their first home game in over four years.

Game Information

What: 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying
When: September 8th, 2015
Where: Faisal Al-Husseini Memorial Stadium, Al-Ram, Palestine  
Kickoff: 17:00 Local
Streams/TV: game  available on Dubai Sport, Abu Dhabi Sport 2, BeIn Sport 1, Falasteen Mubasher.

Previous Encounters: 
November 1999 (Pan Arab Games): Palestine 1:0 UAE
July 2006 (WAFF Championship): Palestine 0:0 UAE
October 2009 (Friendly): UAE 1:1 Palestine
February 2012 (Friendly): UAE 3:0 Palestine

Suspensions: Palestine national team manager Abdel-Nasser Barakat was handed a one match touchline ban by the AFC for his comments towards Qatari referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim. Barakat was upset that the referee allowed play to go on past the stated amount of extra time and suggested that Arab referees not be assigned to adjudicate games involving Arab teams.

More after the jump...