Thoughts on Qatar 0:0 Palestine
Despite the plethora of television channels based in Qatar, Monday's match between Palestine and Qatar was blacked out. So this piece isn't so much a recap of events but a collection of general thoughts on the team six months into Jamal Mahmoud's reign.
Palestine Starting XI: Ramzi Saleh (c), Raed Fares, Abdesallam Al-Sweikeri, Omar Jarun, Musa Abujazr; Khader Youssef, Murad Ismail; Husam Abu Saleh, Mohammed Samara, Ashraf Nu'man; Fahed Attal
Substitutions: Ramzi Saleh <-> Toufic Ali // Khader Youssef <-> Nadim Barghouthi //
Murad Ismail <-> Ma'ly Kawre' // Fahed Attal <-> Abdelhamid Abuhabib // Husam Abu Saleh <-> Khaldoun Al-Halman // Ashraf Nu'man <-> Imad Zatara // Mohammed Samara <-> Peto Kettlun
Omar Jarun's Dominance: There's no understating the importance of Omar Jarun to the team. He has played two matches under Mahmoud against two teams considered stronger by the oddsmakers. The results speak for themselves: 0 goals allowed and zero losses to boot.
Increased depth: There is now competition at more than one position throughout the squad. Musa Abujazr is emerging at left back and Raed Fares is another option at right back alongside Majed Abusidu and Ahmed Harbi. Further up the pitch, Nu'man and Abu Saleh are two players who have benefited the most under Mahmoud's guidance and will push Ismail Amour and Imad Zatara for their starting spots next month.
More players are gaining experience: It might be a little early to crown Abdesallam Al-Sweikeri as the real deal but seeing as how Palestine will most likely have to qualify for the Australia 2015 (by winning the 2014 Challenge Cup) without a lot of the foreign-based players this can only be categorized as a positive step.
A draw is a good result: Palestine have never beaten Qatar in six previous matches (0-1-5). A draw on the road without the services of more than one key player is a good result. Mahmoud has eliminated the sloppy play that plagued Palestine in the Pan-Arab Games and the team is no longer conceding penalties and goals off set-pieces.