Preview: Palestine face Lebanon in Sidon ahead of UAE qualifier
|Palestine 4:0 Rot Weiss Frankfurt|
The experience of watching top class football and visiting the trophy-laden headquarters of the German FA should have the team in a positive mindset ahead of their clash against the Emiratis on the 8th of September. The scrimmages will also have helped the team gel- many of Abdel Nasser Barakat's charges hadn't played international football at this level before the game against Saudi Arabia in June.
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For all the positives, Palestine's German expedition ended on a sour note. A reoccurrence of Ahmed Harbi's calf injury means the captain will not be able to take part against the UAE- joining him on the sidelines are Ahmed Maher and Mahmoud Abu Wardeh. To compound problems, Mohammed Abu Khamis, Mohammed Yameen, and Mus'ab Battat are in a race against time to be ready for the crucial qualifier next month.
Palestine's trip to Beirut was also delayed by 24 hours due to visa issues. Al-Fid'ai is set to take on Lebanon in Sidon on Monday at 1700 local time.
The side will be reinforced by the arrivals of three players currently plying their trades in Chile: Pablo Tamburrini (San Luis), Matías Jadue (Deportes Santa Cruz), and the newly discovered Jonathan Cantillana (Palestino).
All three players should figure prominently in the friendly against Lebanon. Cantillana, who plays as a holding midfielder, faces competition from Khader Yousef, Mohammed Darwish, and Pablo Tamburrini for playing time.
Given the fact they have trained for more than two weeks together- Barakat will most likely opt to field a backline of Alexis, Salah, Dheeb, and Jaber. This should be the combination that starts against the UAE, with the exception of Salah who will most likely make way for Javier Cohene (Atletico CP, Portugal).
How Barakat sets up the rest of his team remains to be seen. The team shifted from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 after the loss against Saudi Arabia and bagged six goals as a result but there will most likely be another tactical shift in preparation for the UAE.
Players who were not in the camp will have to make their case to unseat those who impressed.
For their part, Lebanon are preparing for a crucial qualifier of their own with Korea Republic coming to town next month. Their preparations got underway against Iraq last week and they showed some spark against the Lions of Mesopotamia only to cough up two goals inside the final ten minutes of the game.
The Lebanon test should prove useful for Palestine and should serve as an indicator as to how ready this team is to challenge for top spot in Group A.