Preview: Palestine vs. South Africa (Unofficial Friendly)
The Bafana Bafana take in Bethlehem
Where: Dora, Palestine
Kickoff: 1530 Local
Previous Encounters: None
Palestine will face a 'developmental' South Africa squad twice in the next week. The first of such encounters is tomorrow (November 11th) with another slated for Tuesday (November 15th). For the fourth straight encounter Palestine will be led by a different manager- Jamal Mahmoud- the current Hilal Al-Quds manager. Unlike his predecessors he will be given the role on a permanent basis with Rajoub announcing that Mahmoud will be in charge for the Pan-Arab Games next month and the 2012 Challenge Cup in March (more on his hiring in a later post).
The squad selection was most likely made before Jamal Mahmoud got the call (I have a hard time believing he would overlook Raed Fares, Ehab Abujazr, Murad Ismail, and other key players in his Hilal Al-Quds side) and it is perplexing as per usual. Despite both friendlies falling on FIFA dates the PFA has failed to secure the services of any of the players based abroad. Furthermore, seven Al-Am'ary players have made the squad despite the club dropping four out of its previous five matches- an event which led to the resignation of Hesham Al-Zoabi.
There is also a prevailing imbalance in the squad with four keepers and five forwards being listed. If no more than two goalkeepers will see action why take more? The goalkeeping hierarchy is pretty clear- Ramzi Saleh is the starter Abdullah Saidawi and Mohammed Shbair are his backups. Toufic Ali is promising but very raw and can learn a lot from being present in camp but Assem Abu Asi's inclusion serves no purpose.
In defence, the exclusion of Jehad Rabie is frustrating. The Shabab Al-Khaleel man he has consistently outshone Nadim Barghouthi who has been played more often as a holding midfielder. Seeing Hussam Abu Saleh listed as a defender gives more credence to the theory that the PFA picked this squad. Jamal Mahmoud deploys Abu Saleh as a winger, his RB is Raed Fares-who hasn't been called up. Ismail Qasem is a holding midfielder- which is precisely the type of player Palestine needs more of but is most certainly not a defender.
Unless there is an impending change in the way Palestine plays its football the inclusion of five forwards is simply unnecessary. Eyad Abugharqud and Murad Alyan have been on form but the others have been average. Attal and Keshkesh are experienced but there needs to be a realization that form can outweigh experience. Mahmoud's greatest challenge will be getting Keshkesh and Attal to replicate their form while with Wehdat. Khaled Salem is ongoing project- he he is fast, strong, and great in the air but still has a lot to learn- and should take this opportunity to learn as much as he can from Murad Alyan.
GK: Abdullah Saidawi (Hilal Al-Quds), Mohammed Shbair (Shabab Al-Khaleel), Assem Abu Asi (Al-Am'ary), Toufic Ali (Tarji Wadi Al-Nes)
DF: Nadim Barghouthi (Shabab Al-Khaleel), Ahmed Harbi, Ahmed Salameh (both Al-Am'ary), Haitham Dheeb, Hussam Abu Saleh (both Hilal Al-Quds), Mohammed Al-Masri, Ismail Qasem (both Shabab Al-Dhahrieh)
MF: Ismail Amour, Suleiman Obeid, Ma'ly Kawre', (all Al-Am'ary), Atef Abu Bilal (Shabab Al-Dhahrieh), Khader Youssef (Tarji Wadi Al-Nes)
FW: Murad Alyan (Hilal Al-Quds), Ahmed Keshkesh (Al-Am'ary), Khaled Salem (Shabab Al-Dhahrieh), Fahed Attal, Eyad Abugharqud (both Shabab Al-Khaleel)
*This was the squad announced in September when the fixture was first scheduled to be held. There is no confirmation of the squad at the time of writing.
FP's Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Saidawi; Salameh, Al-Masri, Dheeb, Harbi; Barghouthi, Qasem; Atef Abu Bilal, Khader Youssef, Ismail Amour; Murad Alyan.