Palestine manager Mousa Bezaz has finally announced the long awaited squad to face Afghanistan on June 29th in Tajikistan and July 3rd in Palestine. As we reported on Twitter yesterday, this squad selection is not without controversy. Only four changes are made from the weakened, largely domestic based squad that took part in Asian Challenge Cup Qualifiers in March.
Captain Ramzi Saleh has been omitted due to his continuing recovery from surgery on his knee although it is expected that he will be ready to face Thailand if Palestine advance.
Bezaz surprised many by omitting national team mainstay Majed Absidu. There were murmurs that Bezaz was unsatisfied by his performances at the WAFF Championship last Autumn. It was expected however that Al-Faisaly's (JOR) marauding fullback Shareef Adnan would step in to take his place. Adnan had made a return to the national team, appearing against Tanzania in February, after an 18-month hiatus. It seems that Ahmed Harbi's good Challenge Cup campaign has earned him not only a spot in the squad but a starting role. Other notable inclusions in the squad include Omar Jarun who should partner Abdelatif Bahdari in the heart of defence and Roberto Bishara who should solve that persistent problem on the left flank. This will be Bishara's first appearance under Mousa Bezaz.
The contingent in midfield remains unchanged from the group that represented Palestine in the Challenge Cup Qualifiers. Murad Ismail, who suffered an injury before the start of the March qualifiers, will expect to participate this time alongside Ma'ly Kawre', provided the Israelis allow him to travel. The other major news are the two notable omissions- Imad Zatara (Syrianska-Sweden) and Mohammed Samara (Arab Contractors-Egypt). The reasoning behind their absence is probably down to club commitments, although FIFA laws stipulate that players must be released on international match days. Samara is in the middle of an intense battle for Premier League survival with only six games to go. As far as Zatara is concerned he is known to pick and choose when and where he wants to show up for national team duty. Given that Zatara is just beginning to re-establish himself with Syrianska my hunch is that he was invited but gracefully declined. I expect both to be included in the squad to face Thailand if Palestine advances. I also expect the stars of the Olympic Team to be incorporated at that time as well.
In attack there are no surprises: Alyan will start thanks to his fine form for Hilal Al-Quds and Palestine. The question is who will partner him an established player like Ahmed Keshkesh or Fahed Attal or a newcomer like Eyad Abugharqud? Or will he Murad Alyan be deployed as a lone striker?
The complete squad called up to face Afghanistan in the first round of AFC World Cup Qualifying:
Abdullah Saidawi (Hilal Al-Quds)
Mohammed Shbair (Shabab Al-Khaleel)
Fahed Al-Fakhuri (Thaqafi Tulkarem)
Ahmed Harbi (Al-Am'ary)
Khaled Mahdi (Al-Am'ary)
Samer Hijazi (Jabal Al-Mokaber)
Roberto Bishara (CD Palestino/Chile)
Hussam Abu Saleh (Hilal Al-Quds)
Samer Hijazi (Jabal Al-Mokaber)
Omar Jarun (FC Tampa Bay/USA)
Abdelatif Bahdari (Wehdat/Jordan)
Ismail Amour (Al-Am'ary)
Houssam Wadi (Al-Am'ary)
Ma'ly Kawre' (Al-Am'ary)
Ayman Alhendi (Al-Am'ary)
Suleiman Obeid (Al-Am'ary)
Atef Abu Bilal (Dhahrieh)
Murad Ismail (Hilal Al-Quds)
Hesham Salhe (Hilal Al-Quds)
Khader Yousef (Wadi Al-Nes)
Ashraf Nu'man (Wadi Al-Nes)
Ahmed Keshkesh (Al-Am'ary)
Eyad Abugharqud (Al-Am'ary)
Murad Alyan (Hilal Al-Quds)
Fahed Attal (Wehdat/Jordan)