23 Tickets to Afghanistan: Midfielders
Abuhabeeb will be in a Palestine shirt come June... but will it be against Bahrain (Olympic Qualifiers) or Afghanistan (World Cup Qualifiers)?
This entry is the third of a four part series you can read the first and seconds installments here and here. For the sake of brevity we only assess players who have previously been called up to the national team.
Staying at Home:
Roberto Kettlun (Virtus Casarano, Serie D)- The tricky and skillful winger will be turning 30 in July and he hasn't featured for the national team in nearly five years. He has spent the past four years in Italy's Serie D playing for Brindisi, Santegidiese, Teramo, Olympia Agnonese, and Virtus Casarano. It is troubling that a player of his quality is stuck playing semi-pro football in Italy and does very little to improve his chances of a call-up to the national team. Despite the fact that Palestine has an abundance of talented wingers, very few have the footballing intelligence of Kettlun. Roberto knows how to combine well with others and helps out the team by keeping possession of the ball. He'll be playing in the Serie D promotion playoffs starting May 22nd.
Edgardo Abdala (Santiago Morning, Chilean Primera)- Another one of the Chileans who has been constantly overlooked, his last call-up was against Singapore in 2007. Despite his age (33 in , I have been one of the advocates for his return as there is a complete lack of quality holding midfielders in the WBPL.
Fadi Salím (Merkaz Tulkarem, WBPL)- Singlehandedly kept Merkaz Tulkarem in the WBPL, has 2 goals in 15 appearances in the national team but hasn't been called up in the last three years.
Ma'ly Kawre (Al-Am'ary, WBPL)- The problem Kawre faces in joining up with the national team is the the fact that Israel's occupying forces have repeatedly denied him the right to travel. He has been one of the key players in Al-Am'ary's title winning season.
Ayman AlHendi (Shabab Al-Khaleel, WBPL)- Played a peripheral role in Challenge Cup qualification. I'd fully expect Bezaz to discard him for someone more established.
Shadi Allan (Wadi Al-Nes, WBPL)- Received his first cap against Tanzania in February but didn't do too much to set himself apart.
Hesham Salhe (Hilal Al-Quds, WBPL)- The diminutive midfielder started the first game against Bangladesh in Challenge Cup qualifying but played a total of three minutes over the next two games. He's a gritty player, but perhaps lacks the quality to cut it at international level.
Murad Ismail (Hilal Al-Quds, WBPL)- His claim to fame is the fact that he assisted on the majority of Murad Alyan's 20 league goals this season. He'll be in direct competition for a spot on the roster with Suleiman Obeid and Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb.
Suleiman Obeid (Al-Am'ary, WBPL)- Has often been fielded in a playmaking role by Bezaz but loses possession far too often to be depended on as a starter. His skills are better used on the wing but will face stiff competition to make the squad with Abu Bilal, Ismail Amour, and Ashraf Nu'man ahead of him in the pecking order.
Hicham Ali (Malmö FF/on loan to Rosengard)- Hicham Ali is continuing in his quest to break into the Malmö FF first team. Malmö has loaned out many promising youngsters to this third tier side for developmental purposes (Zlatan Ibrahimoviç being the most notorious of the bunch). Ali tracks back better than any Palestinian winger in the game today and could probably be dispatched as a left back if needed. A couple of issues arise in getting him to camp, the first is the fact that the Swedish league season is in action from April through November. The second issue is whether he will appear for the Olympic Team against Bahrain 10 days before the World Cup qualifiers.
Abdelhamid Abuhabeeb (Balta, WBPL)- Much like Ma'ly Kawre, Abuhabeeb has been denied the right to travel by Israel on more than one occasion. He is also one of the players who is on the brink of breaking into the full senior team, perhaps at the expense of the Olympic squad. He has been phenomenal with Balata this season- with 22 goals in all competitions- en route to a fourth place finish and a semifinal appearance in the FA Cup.
On the Plane!
Houssam Wadi (Jabal Al-Mokaber, WBPL)- Plays as a centreback with his club but has proved himself as the only player in the WBPL who can competently shield the defence and break up opposition attacks.
Ismail Amour (Jabal Al-Mokaber, WBPL)- Is a constant threat on the right side of midfield was at his best in the Challenge Cup at the heart of nearly every attacking move for Palestine.
Ashraf Nu'man (Wadi Al-Nes, WBPL)- Had a breakthrough season with Wadi Al-Nes and has proved himself capable of making the jump from the Olympic Squad. Might not start ahead of Imad Zatara (if he's included in the squad) but could provide a spark off the bench.
Khader Yousef (Wadi Al-Nes, WBPL)- Steady but not spectacular. Khader Yousef provided a steady stream of outlet passes to the wing during the Challenge Cup and covered a good amount of ground in all three games. Might be relegated to the bench behind Mohammed Samara.
Mohammed Samara (Arab Contractors, Egyptian Premier League)- Has been valiant in the fight to save Arab Contractors from relegation, great box to box midfielder with good attacking instincts. The only problem that could prevent him from joining training camp is the fact that the end of the Egyptian league has been pushed back to July 11th, Contractors will not do us any favors and will only release Samara once FIFA stipulates they must (4 days before the match).
Imad Zatara (Syrianska, Allsvenskan)- A very moody player who is known to be prone to turning down call-ups. Zatara will be forced to chose between club and country again with Syrianska in the middle of a relegation battle. Will be a definite starter if he does make the trip
Atef Abu Bilal (Dhahrieh, WBPL)- 14 league goals and an impressive performance at the Challenge Cup will be enough to clinch Abu Bilal a ticket.