Thoughts on Palestine's Challenge Cup Campaign.
Well it's all over and this is what it looked like when the dust settled:
1. KYRGYZSTAN 0-2-0 2-2 2 PTS
2. Nepal 0-2-0 1-1 2 PTS
3. Palestine 0-2-0 1-1 2 PTS
The "Group of Death" lived up to its name... and strangely enough the team that advances could only manage to score from the penalty spot. To be honest, I don't know how the tiebreaker will be decided between Nepal and Palestine, as soon as Kyrgyzstan went ahead from the spot, news sources reported that Nepal had been knocked out, so I'm assuming that the Palestine holds the tie-breaker, whatever it may be (EDIT: Nepal has a better disciplinary record, so they will claim second place). That said, it is a moot point... chances of qualifying for the next round are slim to none. You'd need three second place teams to collect no more than 1 point from the third and first place teams. It's not going to happen and holding out for hope will result in supreme disappointment. So for argument's sake let us assume we are out: Here is a rehashing of the positives and negatives of this campaign.
- These results were obtained with a weakened squad. There are players who earned their first caps for Palestine most notably: Nadim Al-Barghouthi, Khader Yousef, Ma'ly Kaw'reh, and lone goalscorer Saeed Al-Sobakhi. Successful teams can draw from a large pool of experienced players, this campaign helped us blood in some new players.
-This camp built on the first complete West Bank Premier League in years. It gave many domestically based players much needed experience. There were only 4 foreign based players in this squad: Ahmed Keshkesh, Fahed Attal, Roberto Bishara and Majed Abusidu.
-We didn't lose on hostile territory, perhaps not the biggest positive... but hey we are ranked 174 in the world that should at least boost us up in the standings.
-Player Selection: Why on earth we played Abusidu as a holding mid is beyond me... we needed to call up some foreign-based players to fill that void. There was also a lack of width, which could have beey remedied with Fadi Salim or Imad Zaatara. I'm all for giving new players chances... but how many games do we play a year? Not many, so we might as well field a full strength squad in our only two competitive matches.
- The influence of the Jordanian FA: They appointed the coach and quite frankly had some serious influence on player selection. Sharif Adnan was not allowed to play for us and Fadi Lafi wasn't released from Shabab Al-Ordon. I can't really criticize Izzat Hamzeh, because I didn't see these two matches, but his backing down from the Adnan situation proves he isn't his own man.
- Apparently we blew a small fortune on preparations: 200,000 USD!
Coming up next.... Where do we go from here