The first year of fully-fledged professional football in the West Bank is coming to a a thrilling close. Week 22 of the West Bank Premier League is set up perfectly with half the games having direct bearing on the title and relegation races. Here is what you need to know heading into the final week of the season:
The Fight for Survival:
Merkaz Tulkarem vs. Asker (May 5th, 1500 GMT)
Merkaz Tulkarem (10th- 18 points) has been a completely different side since the league suspended activity for the AFC Challenge Cup. Since the break, the Samaritans have collected 12 out of a possible 21 points with only one loss in their final seven games. They drew last week against Balata to avoid relegation and will be guaranteed safety with a win. A draw could keep them up provided Hilal Areeha doesn't win. Merkaz Asker (Last- 17 points) have also been a different side since the break- a far worse one. Their slide has gifted Al-Bireh, Thaqafi, and even Jabal Al-Mukaber Premiership survival. The Nablus based side needs to win and even then could be relegated on goal differential if Hilal Areeha beat Wadi Al-Nes. It doesn't look good for Asker who have only mustered 3 out of a possible 21 points since the break.
Hilal Areeha vs. Wadi Al-Nes (May 5th, 1500 GMT)
Hilal Areeha expected to be here on the last week of the season, Wadi Al-Nes were expecting to be in contention for the title and had this game marked as an easy three points. Looking at Wadi Al-Nes's miserable campaign I think they had half the games marked as an easy three points. Wadi Al-Nes lost to the Jericho based side 1-0 on the opening day of the season and with their backs against the wall (of Jericho?) they'll need to repeat that performance
The Dead Rubbers:
Balata vs. Shabab Al-Khaleel (May 6th, 1500 GMT)
Thaqafi Tulkarem vs. Dhahrieh (May 6th, 1500 GMT)
Al-Bireh vs. Jabal Al-Mokaber (May 6th, 1500 GMT)
The Title Fight
Hilal Al-Quds vs. Merkaz Shabab Al-Am'ary (May 7th, 1700 GMT)
The FA has set aside this match to close out the week and the season and what a match it promises to be. Hilal Al-Quds will be kicking themselves for drawing Asker 2-2 in Week 20, and dropping points to Merkaz Tulkarem (1-1, Week 15), Thaqafi Tulkarem (1-1, Week 17), and Dhahrieh (0-0, Week 19). In contrast, Merkaz Al-Am'ary dropped points just once since the league returned to action in April (against Wadi Al-Nes, 0-0, Week 20). In all reality this league has become Al-Am'ary's to lose; they have one hand on the trophy and barring disaster should be crowned champions.
This begs the question- What can Hilal Al-Quds do to win the league? The answer is that they'll need to win by at least four goals. Al-Am'ary beat Hilal Al-Quds 3-2 in the first game of the season. They haven't lost all year and have the top scorer, Eyad Abugharqud (19 Goals), in their ranks.