2012/13 WBPL Preview (Part II)
Yesterday we assessed the potential fortunes of the eight returning WBPL teams. Today, we'll be looking at how the four newly promoted teams will fare in their new surroundings:
Ahli Al-Khaleel (AAK)
Key Man: Khaldoun Al-Halman
IN: Baha Dhiyab (GK/Jabal Al-Mukaber), Bashar Al-Sayed (DF/Shabab Al-Khaleel), Shadi Allan (MF/Hilal Al-Quds), Hatem Karim (DF/Hilal Al-Quds), Salah Al-Zubaidi (MF/Hilal Al-Quds), Ahmad Zakaria (FW/Shabab Al-Khadr), Abdesallam Darawsheh (MF/Maccabi Ahi Nazareth/ISR), Islam Qanawat (DF/Maccabi Ahi Nazareth/ISR), Hazem Al-Reikhawy (MF/Al-Am'ary)
OUT: Shadi Qawasmeh (GK/Retired), Bassam Armali (FW/Dalyat Umm Karmal/ISR)
Last Year: Champions, First Division
FP's take: Ahli Al-Khaleel were utterly dominant in the First Division last year notching up the best goal difference in the league thanks to a stingy defense that only gave up 19 goals over 22 games. The Reds also finished the season on a tear going undefeated in the final 13 games of the season. Equally impressive was their FA Cup run which saw them dispatch of two WBPL sides (Merkaz Tulkarem and Al-Am'ary) en-route to the semifinals where they lost to eventual champions Shabab Al-Dhahrieh. This is a side with unparalleled ambition who have just won back-to-back promotions as league champion. In preparing for their upcoming season with the big boys the front office spared no expense- Savvy veterans Bashar Al-Sayed, Shadi Allan, Hatem Karim, and Salah Al-Zubaidi all have domestic titles to their name. They may not have been the biggest stars for Hilal Al-Quds and Shabab Al-Khaleel but they have the experience and know what it takes to win. They also have a potential gem in Abdesallam Darawsheh who became an instant club legend after scoring a brace in a 3-2 win over crosstown rivals Shabab Al-Khaleel.
Newly promoted clubs have been known to punch above their weight (see: Balata 2010/11) so picking them to finish third isn't all that unorthodox. There will be other teams in the mix for that spot, Tarji and Al-Dhahrieh come to mind, but if Khaldoun Al-Halman continues to mature as a goal scorer we like The Reds' chances of upsetting the established order this season.
Islami Qalqilya (IQL)
Lu'ay Nassar: Terrorizing Keepers
IN: Salah Bransi (GK/Al-Taybeh), Shadi Al-Shawbaki (FW/Merkaz Asker), Hamada Jebareen (MF/Jenin), Alaa Adekidek (MF/Ansar Al-Quds), Fadi Daha (Jalzun)
OUT: Alaa Yameen (DF/Balata)
Last Year: 2nd, First Division
FP's take: Islami Qalqilya have elected to show faith in the squad that earned them promotion and scored a league-leading 51 goals (2.3 goals per game). We're tipping them to stay up with the consensus being that Lu'ay Nassar's goals will win the club 4-5 games this season. His goal scoring rate was off the charts last year- 22 league goals and 1 cup goal- and when Nassar isn't scoring the Two Mar'abahs (Sameh and Mohammed) can cause plenty of headaches. It won't be pretty but it will be enough to keep Islami in the top flight.
Hilal Jericho (HAJ)
IN: Fadi Hasasneh (FW/Thaqafi Tulkarem), Mutasim Al-Eisawi (MF/Al-Eibadieh), Firas Abu Lu'ay (FW/Merkaz Ain Sultan), Mohammed Dhiyab (DF/Hapoel Tamra/ISR)
OUT: Adham Arar (MF/Al-Am'ary)
Last Year: 3rd, First Division
FP's take: The most telling statistic: Hilal Jericho only managed 11 multi-goal games in 2011/12, their record in those games (6W 2D 3L). This is a side that was much more likely to get a result (5W 5D 0L) when the score resembled binary code. The fact of the matter is there is not enough talent on this squad to replicate the game plan in the top flight.
Another worry for the team is that they'll always be the road team. For whatever reason, the PFA isn't using the Jericho Stadium to host games so Hilal will be facing trips of over an hour to get to most venues.
IN: Imad Badarna (MF/Bnei Sakhnin/ISR), Hassan Abu Attieh (FW/Merkaz Jenin), Hamudeh Bishara (DF/Balata), Samaha Jebareen (DF/Shabab Al-Dhahrieh)
OUT: Hamada Jebareen (MF/Islami Qalqilya), Mohammed Taha (MF/Tobas)
Last Year: 4th, First Division
FP's take: Just like their counterparts Islami Qalqilya and Ahli Al-Khaleel Jenin is basking in the success of consecutive promotions. On paper Jenin should get relegated alongside Hilal Jericho but Jenin are a mentally strong bunch they recovered from recovering from a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Ahli Al-Khaleel and a 1-0 loss to Hilal Jericho in Weeks 18 and 19 in spectacular fashion by winning a 4-3 shootout over Islami Qalqilya and thumping Silwan 7-0. This is a side that will be unpredictable, inconsistent, and frustrating to watch but they have enough grit to survive. They got off to a good start yesterday by recording a come from behind victory against Islami Qalqilya. If they can roll with the punches like they did last year they'll live to see another WBPL season.