Palestine's Olympic Team defeats Oman to open up 2014 Asian Games
Palestine Starting XI: Hammadeh, Battat, Salah, Mahdi (C), Jaber; Musa, Sheikhqasem, Kharoub, Abuwardeh; Maher, Mara'ba.
Substitutions: Abuwardeh <--> Abugheneima 67' // Kharoub <-> Musallmeh 78' // Maher <--> Jboor 87'-->->-->
Goals: Ahmed Maher 39' // Hamada Mara'ba 56'
Cautions: Abuwardeh 35'
Highlights after the jump
Palestine's Olympic team defeated their Omani counterparts 2-0 to register their first goals and a first win at the Asian Games. Palestine is participating in their fourth Asian Games and had previously only managed a single draw and eight losses.
The win is part of an upswing in recent years for the U23 team. Several young players in the squad have had extensive experience either as part of the previous cycle or as members of the first team.
In the lead up to this tournament, Palestine played a series of scrimmages and friendlies. The most prominent of which- a 3-0 loss to Brazil served as an excellent dry run in positioning and counterattacking. Before that, Palestine had faced Oman in Muscat in a 4-4 draw that saw many decisions (two penalties) go the way of the hosts.
It was a different story today. Instead of a shootout- Palestine kept a clean sheet adeptly. When the defence lapsed- Rami Hammadeh was there to make the crucial intervention. Al-Fida'i opened the scoring when Mus'ab Al-Battat sent a cross into space from the right side. Although it appeared to be an aimless ball, his Shabab Al-Dhahrieh teammate- Ahmed Maher- made a late run and struck the ball on the volley. It was a fantastic finish for a player who was one of the few bright spots in the senior team matches against Myanmar and Chinese Taipei earlier this month.
Palestine doubled their lead in similar fashion in the second half. A cross from the left this time wasn't cleared properly by the Omani defence and it eventually fell to Hamada Mara'ba. His goal couldn't have been more different than the opener, with the Khader FC youngster taking a couple of touches before cooly slotting it to the keeper's left.
Palestine will play Tajikistan on September 17th at 17:00 Local Time (+9 GMT). A win could clinch a spot in the Round of 16.