Let the Coaching Search Begin!

Originally, this post was going to be a follow up to What Now? Assessing the Problem. Football Palestine's first suggestion was going to be to fire Izzat Hamzeh, but he has beaten us to the punch. Last week, Hamzeh asked to be released from his contract so he could run for Presidency of the Jordanian FA. Which essentially proves the fact that he was nothing but a lackey, so I'm glad he is out of the way but this means the search for a new National Team manager should begin as soon as possible. We cannot afford to go the rest of the year without playing matches and without have a long-term manager. So here are the candidates that were put forth on a koora.com poll:

Mahmoud Al-Gohary:


Al-Gohary is the fan favorite, he is perhaps the only big-name candidate on this list. His hiring, however, will not happen and that may not be a bad thing. Al-Gohary has an impressive CV: He is the only person to have won the African Cup of Nations as a player and a coach (top scorer in 1959, led the team to glory in 1998), He led Egypt to a World Cup Finals in 1990 (their first appearance in 54 years) where they did quite well (draws against the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands before being denied a spot in the second round by England in the Final group game), He also won everything as a manager with Egypt's Al-Ahly and won the African Champions' League with Zamalek.
In 2002, he took up the managerial reigns for the Jordanian National Team, in his first challenge he managed to secure Jordan qualification for the 2004 Asian Cup, for the first time in their history. Not to shabby when you consider that Jordan was grouped with Iran, Lebanon, and DPR Korea. Jordan collected a whopping 15 points from 6 games losing only to Iran away (they secured a 3-2 victory at home) while also recording clean sheets in four of the six games. In the Finals Jordan went undefeated in group play securing 0-0 draws with South Korea and the UAE a 2-0 win snatched from the jaws of a draw against Kuwait was enough to see them through to the Quarterfinals, where they lost on penalties to eventual champions Japan.

The glowing review of Al-Gohary ends here. The man has some serious faults, first and foremost he is the Arab world's answer to Otto Rehhagel . He is the master of the 0-0 draw and negative play especially when his team is faced with a stronger or evenly matched opponent. Moreover, it seems that his career peaked in 2004 (with another famous scalping against Iran, this time at the Azadi Stadium), when Jordan pushed Iran to the limit in the first round of World Cup qualifying only for the wheels to come off the bus in the final two games against Iran at home and Qatar away. Since then, Jordan really hasn't done anything out of the ordinary, their 2007 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying Campaign was pitiful, Jordan could only register wins against Pakistan and their other win, against Oman, came in the final round of matches with everything effectively settled.

So although he has a track record of proven success, Al-Gohary comes with some limitations. Firstly, you can forget about advancing the quality of football from an attacking standpoint, what we will get is the kind of football that was on display during the 2002 World Cup Qualifying Campaign. All this really is a moot point, because Al-Gohary has accepted a cushy job as consultant to the Jordanian FA, which requires him to do absolutely nothing except making current coach Adnan Hamed's life a living hell.

Nicola Shahwan:


Shahwan has already coached the team, and he did quite a good job while in charge, with far fewer resources than a certain Izzat Hamzeh. The National Team is forever indebted to this man for discovering great talents in South America that were previously not on our radar. Pablo Abdala, Edgardo Abdala, Roberto Kettlun, Francisco Alam, and Roberto Bishara were all discovered by him and these players have all had long and fruitful careers with the National Team. Even after his tenure came to a close, Shahwan has been a perfect gentleman always willing to help out the team in any way he can. His CV is not as impressive although he did lead Deportivo La Serena to a record of 38 wins and 1 loss in 2002 en route to promotion to the Chilean Premier Division. He also coached CD Palestino of the Chilean Premier Division. His stint with the national team is a bit of a mixed bag, he led the U-23 team's 2004 Olympic qualifying campaign, winning against Nepal (2-1, 1-0), but eventually lost out in the penultimate round of qualifiers to Kuwait in extra-time. With the senior team, things started off brightly, but ended rather abruptly. Palestine under his command where a free-wheeling, Joga Bonito bunch. They came close to advancing in the Arab Cup but too many draws (albeit exciting ones) proved to be their achillies heel. The National Team lost to Morocco 3-1 and managed draws against Jordan (1-1), Sudan (2-2), and Kuwait (3-3). Qualification for the 2004 Asian Cup started with a 1-1 draw to Qatar but heart-breaking losses to Qatar (2-1) and Kuwait (2-1) left the campaign on life support. Palestine only managed one more point (vs. Singapore) and Shahwan's tenure came to an end with no wins to speak of.

Despite, the mixed record, I'd say Shahwan is the best coach we could hire at this point. He is eager and willing to be a part of our National Team set up. He speaks Arabic and Spanish (which is a huge plus), could help us attract more South American based talent, and plays positive football. With a better crop of domestic league players to choose from, I feel that he could help the team take that next step.

Ghassan Al-Balawi:


A coach from Gaza, who assisted Izzat Hamzeh in preparations for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers. He coached Al-Amar'y to a second place finish in the West Bank Premier League. Really not much to say other than that, but he was tied on 12% as the second most popular choice to lead the National Team.

Mohammed Al-Sabah/Naeem Al-Sweikeri:

Long-time assistant coaches with mixed records. Al-Sabah has the stronger CV, having led the Palestinian National Team at the 2006 AFC Challenge Cup were his 3-5-2 formation wreaked havoc on Cambodia, Guam, and Bangladesh. In my mind, if we are going to go with a domestic based coach he should get the job. Naeem Al-Sweikeri was in charge for two matches at the 2007 WAFF Championship which resulted in unimpressive 1-0 and 2-0 losses against Iraq and Iran, respectively.