Preview: Palestine Olympic Team vs. Thailand (2nd Leg)

What: Olympic Qualifier Return Leg
When: March 9th, 2011
Where: Al-Ram, Palestine
Kick-0ff: 1600 GMT

TV: Palestine Satellite TV
Stream: Check the kooora forums before kick-off.

There's no understating the importance of this game. Its the first competitive match to take place on Palestinian soil and the second FIFA sanctioned event (the first being the 2008 friendly vs. Jordan). All the big dignitaries will be there including AFC President Mohammed bin Hammam, who may just be launching a campaign to challenge FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

Thailand arrived in Palestine on Monday after arriving in Jordan in the early hours of the morning and crossing the border. We haven't heard of the Thais encountering any difficulty at the hands of the Israelis but the border crossing tends to take at least four hours. The Thais who have a horrendous record in the Middle East have been promised 1 million Baht ($33,000) if they beat Al-Fursan. The relatively chilly weather (~10 Celsius) could also provide problems for the Elephants.

As for Palestine, the team is expected to be greeted by a capacity crowd at the Faisal Al-Husseini Memorial Stadium. The squad has been boosted by the additions of Thaer Qaraeen and Abdelhamid Abu Habeeb both of whom are expected to play a part in this game. The team is expected to lineup again in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Trailing 1-0 after the first game in Bangkok expect the team to come out conservatively and to try and establish some sort of a foothold before unleashing their attack.

Expected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Toufic Ali (GK); Fayez Aslieh, Mustafa Abu Kweik (c), Nadim Barghouthi, Ahmad Abdullah; Mohammed Sadoody, Ali El-Khatib, Ahmed Mearry, Hicham Ali; Abdelhamid Abu Habeeb, Khaled Jamal.

Prediction: Palestine 1 : 0 Thailand