Indonesia outclassed Palestine in front of a packed stadium in Solo today. Abdelnasser Barakat was in charge of a squad made up of domestic players that was in for a tough test against an Indonesian side eager for a good show in front of the home fans before heading west for their World Cup qualifiers.
Starting XI (4-5-1): Shbair(GK), Samer Hijazi, Ra'fat Ayyad, Haitham Deeb, Abu Saleh, Khader Yousuf, Murad Ismail, Ashraf Nouman, Suleiman Obeid, Ali Khatib, Fahed Attal(C)
Substitutions: Khaled Salem, Eyad Abugharqoud
The first half was balanced. Ra'fat Ayyad did a good job marshaling the back-line which was missing the experience of Jarun and Bahdari. Samer Hijazi did a decent job in left back, a position we've had trouble filling, and provided needed width on occasion. Both sides came close to scoring on a few tries but were effective in shutting each other out and went into halftime scoreless.
Palestine had a strong start to the second half, keeping possession in the midfield. Sulaiman Obeid beat the offside trap to lob it over the keeper and give his team the lead. For a little while longer, Palestine seemed in control. The Indonesians stepped up their game with Cristian Gonzales and Bambang Pamungkas giving the Palestinian defence trouble and forcing fouls. The equalizer came from a set piece that was saved by Shbair but deflected right to Hariono's head. This is when things fell apart. The 25,000 home fans pushed their team for more and it was only a matter of time before the inexperience in the defence started to show. Abu Saleh was particularly vulnerable at right back, two goals coming from that side. Eyad Abugharqoud came on for Attal and Khaled Salem made his international debut coming in for Ashraf No'man as Barakat switched to a 4-4-2. The tactical shift had no effect on the game as Indonesia remained in control and finished it in style, scoring all four goals within twenty minutes.
The scoreline wouldn't suggest it, but perhaps we can take a few positives from the match, particularly from the youngsters. Ali Khatib was great in the midfield pairing up nicely with Suleiman Obaid and Samer Hijazi showed he has the potential to be molded into a decent left-back.
I am not going to say I was disappointed though I was expecting the scoreline to be a little less harsh. It is rather worrying to see a domestic squad take such a beating, especially when we might have to do without most of our foreign-league players for the Challenge Cup.
Lastly, to our Indonesian friends, thank you for your kind words on Twitter and on the blog, much love. You impressed us with your passion for your team, especially in the stands. We wish you the best of luck in your World Cup Qualifying group!