Preview: Palestine vs. Kuwait
What: Bronze Medal Match, 2011 Pan Arab Games
When: December 22nd, 2011
Where: Al-Gharafa Stadium, Doha, Qatar
Kickoff: 1630 GMT
08/10/2003 Kuwait 4:0 Palestine
05/10/2003 Kuwait 2:1 Palestine
25/12/2002 Kuwait 3:3 Palestine
Kuwait and Palestine have only met in competitive encounters- all in Kuwait City. their first meeting coming at the 2002 Arab Nations Cup. A highly entertaining match in Kuwait City ended in a 3-3 draw, both team were searching for a win in order to progress to the knockout stage but the draw ensured that neither would qualify. They would meet again in 2004 Asian Cup Qualifying, Kuwait won the first game with a late winner and would win the rematch three days later against a nine man Palestine.
Jordan 2:0 Kuwait (aet)
Palestine 1:3 Bahrain
The Opponent: Kuwait made easy work of Saudi Arabia's and Oman's Olympic sides but were pushed to the limit by Jordan in the semifinal. They were repeatedly frustrated by Jordan's organized defence and lost their composure late on- surrounding the ref after he decided to send off goalkeeper Khaled Al-Rashidi. Kuwait have trouble playing a full 90 minutes of good football- they have been brilliant for stretches during their World Cup qualifying campaign but have endured tough stretches against Lebanon, UAE, and even Philippines in the preliminaries. The Blues aren't known for their composure so it will be interesting to see how they respond today with only a bronze to play for.
Suspensions: According to Ma'an News Murad Alyan missed the Bahrain match because of card accumulation (a lack official match reports make it difficult to keep track of player cautions). It looks like Ali El-Khatib will miss the bronze medal match for the same reason (apparently cautions aren't wiped out after the groups stage- it's hard to keep track of tournament rules with the rule book not made available on the official website). Kuwait will be without their first choice keeper Khaled Al-Rashidi after he was sent off in the dying moments against Jordan.
Fatigue & Emotion: Playing another game with only 48 hours left is a challenge for any team. Kuwait played 30 minutes of extra time against Jordan but Palestine have played a whole 60 minutes more in the past 11 days. Winning the bronze medal will mean more to Palestine so they may be able to overcome the fatigue and disappointment of their game two days ago. Jamal Mahmoud has tried to put the loss out of the minds of his players- accepting full responsibility for the loss in front of the media and refusing to highlight the two defensive errors and awful refereeing that led to Bahrain's three goals. Third place play-offs tend to be high scoring affairs so this should be a fun one to watch.