Rapid Reaction: Palestine 0 Iraq 3
Recap: Palestine reshuffled the line-up and took a more conservative approach to the game, Abusidu started on the bench as Harbi got a run out at right back. Haitham Dheeb and Murad Said replaced the suspended duo of Bahdari and Wadi respectively. The other changes saw Abu Saleh take Ismail Amour's place on the right and Mohammed Jamal play alongside Ahmed Keshkesh.
Iraq's first goal came out of nowhere, Hatem Karim was badly injured after limited contact with his namesake Mustafa Karim who was left one-on-one by an unsuspecting Ramzi Saleh. The injury was so bad that Karim had to be stretchered off and replaced by Abusidu. Iraq really didn't do much after that, then again neither did Palestine their best two chances coming off of two free kicks.
Manager Mousa Bezaz tried to get the team in a more attacking mood by replacing Abu Saleh with Amour and later bringing on Fahed Attal for Khader Yousef after going 2-0 down. Iraq's second goal came off of a clever set piece and their third came from the spot with Haitham Dheeb resorting to a rugby tackle to prevent Iraq from scoring after Ahmed Harbi's played the ball directly to an on-rushing Iraqi player. Dheeb was sent off for his troubles and Nashat Akram converted the penalty.
What it means: Palestine crash out of yet another WAFF tournament without a win to their name. Not surprising but a little disappointing seeing as how Palestine were cruising during their first 43 minutes against Yemen. Bezaz used this game to see how some of the fringe players would play against a stronger side like Iraq. Some did well (Murad Said playing out of position) others failed the test (Ahmed Harbi played a major part in two goals). Bezaz must now look a little harder for some new players to come in and replace those who have underwhelmed.
Positives: For long stretches of the game, Iraq was made to look pedestrian. This was accomplished without Abdelatif Bahdari and Palestine's only true holding midfielder Houssam Wadi.
Negatives: Lack of imagination on set piece plays, Palestine opted for a hit-and-hope approach. A team like Palestine must have 5-10 set piece plays that they practice over and over until perfection... against stronger teams set pieces represent our best chance of scoring.
Star Player: Suleiman Obeid, the revelation of the tournament, showed that he is capable of making the step up to the national team level after representing Palestine at the Olympic level.
Flops: Ahmad Harbi was given a chance and he showed he doesn't belong he made a schoolboy error on the play that lead to the Iraq penalty and was out of position on the second goal as well. Fahed Attal lost his place in the squad, it has been four years since he last scored a goal (his goal against Terek Grozny excepted) and he didn't provide much of a spark in tonight's game. He only needs 3 goals to equal Ziyad Al-Kord as Palestine's all-time leading scorer... but he just can't buy a goal at the moment.
Bezaz's Future: His contract is up on June 30, 2011. Which is right in the middle of World Cup Qualifying. He seems to have his teams prepared but his squad selection leaves a little to be desired. Ahmed Harbi over Faisaly's Shareef Adnan? That's a curious decision.
What's next: A rumored friendly against Timor Leste in November?