Let me be clear. I didn't think Palestine was going to win this one, nor did I think they could grind out a draw. In the past, when we have met Iran or teams in the Top 8 in Asia we tended to put in a valiant performance and succumb to a 2-0 or 3-0 loss. Those were my expectations. To see your team get blown out 7-0 is demoralizing, even if it is just a friendly.
In the boardroom:
The PFA has to be held to account they seem to not realize the urgency of putting a manager in place. Palestine can improve, as I've said before talent wise Jordan isn't any better, the difference is that they have had Mahmoud Al-Gohary in charge for a decade. As a result they have completely revamped their domestic league and national team. Palestine needs a guy like that. Jibril Rajoub said he was on the look out for a foreign coach who could take Palestine to the next level. He has yet to deliver on his promise.
To further compound the problem- the PFA decided to select a team and send them to far away lands to play two friendlies. Both resulted in disaster Palestine's 4:1 loss to Indonesia was masked by the fact that Palestine was up 1-0 after 65 minutes. But there is no hiding from a 7:0 result, even if you did send a relatively inexperienced side.
Jibril Rajoub's regime is a joke. I'm glad he has announced that he will not run for another term next year because he has struggled to achieve the same results with eight times the budget. Yes, he has got the league up and running without interruption, he has secured Palestine the right to host games, but what has he done to transform Palestinian football? ZERO. Before Rajoub the team played under ridiculous circumstances but still managed to put in spirited performances. The teams of a previous generation never had league play, training camps, and stipends they had an excuse. What is Rajoub's excuse?
On the bench:
The players and coaching staff don't get a pass here. The moment you put on that shirt you have a moral obligation to run yourself ragged defending it. I saw that attitude in the first half- but in the second half- especially after Nekounam's penalty the team just quit. Quitting is unacceptable, I don't mind losing after seeing the team gave 110% but to see a team shut down mentally with more than half an hour to play is pathetic.
The coaching staff was naïve in its formation and player selection. The midfield was flat and there was no effort from Kawre' or Khader Youssef to break up the Iranian attack. Instead they sort of just ushered them to our box and let another player in a redshirt deal with it. Playing with two forwards was such a tactical folly. No one plays with two up front in the modern era, the most common formations are 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1, and 4-3-3. Iran played a 4-3-3, we knew they were going to play this the most logical response would have been to pack the midfield with five. Instead what we ended up with was Khader Youssef and Ma'ly Kawre' vs. Teymourian, Karimi, and Nekounam.
The coaching staff failed in instilling a game plan. When you face a side ranked 112 spots above you, you need to be prepared to play without the ball. Palestine was not and their forwards never saw the ball. Why? Because in the few instances Iran lost the ball Meydavoudi and Khalatabari (or Rezaei/Kazemian in the second half) tracked back and we were outnumbered. The only way to get the ball to the forwards was to launch it in the air. Which is why Khaled Salem not starting was even more of asurprise (When he did come on he forced Gordan into making a save- Palestine's only shot of the game).
On the pitch
I'm not going to bother with rating the players. It was big giant F for anyone involved in this game. I thought Obeid and Amour could have been more effective if used properly they showed flashes here and there. Attal, Abugharqud, Khader Youssef, & Ma'ly Kawre' were invisible throughout. The latter two are joint hide-and-go-seek champions, whenever a white shirt was bursting through midfield they were nowhere to be found. On a positive note, I thought Raed Fares did a good job of shutting down the right flank. Seeing how the alternatives to Majed Abusidu are actually wingers (Adnan, Harbi, and Abu Saleh) this is the one positive we can take from this match.
After reviewing the tape, here is who gets the blame for the goals:
1st Goal: Samer Hijazi got schooled twice by Khalatbari whose cross deflected off of Al-Masri. With the ball's speed slowing down, Barghouthi should have turned around to deal with Ghazi (who scored the goal). He had plenty of time to do this but instead stared at the ball, unsure of what to do. Shbair's positioning wasn't the greatest but I blame Barghouthi for this one.
2nd Goal: A lot of people to blame, the midfield was doing a really crappy job of picking up their opponents. Hijazi was out of position so Al-Masri had to shift over to chase down Mahni. All credit to Al-Masri (he actually got a piece of the ball) he did his job but Barghouthi did not- Ansarifard was wide open. Shbair could have come to snuff out the danger but he hesitated. The culprits are the same: Barghouthi, Hijazi, and to a lesser extent Shbair.
3rd Goal: Again, plenty of blame. Abugharqud had just wasted a chance at the other end. After the ensuing goal kick, players were either slow to recover or wanted to attempt to pressure Iran in their own area. Shbair has to get the full blame here because Barghouthi and Fares were in the box along with Ansarifard. Even if Kazemian got past Shbair he would not have a clear sight on goal. There was no need to go to ground, especially when going to ground is not your strengths (Unlike Ramzi Saleh).
4th Goal: Weak goal, off a throw in. You can blame poor marking, Khaled Salem and Samer Hijazi rushed to cover Ansarifard- who was already covered by Fares and Barghouthi. Kazemian was left wide open. Despite the poor marking, Shbair has to come out for this one. He is glued to the line at all times. If he goes out and confronts Kazemian there is a 60% chance he wins a foul even if he doesn't get the ball.
5th Goal: A well taken corner and a powerful header. Credit to Iran for devising this set play.
6th Goal: Ridiculous 40 yard screamer from Pejman Nouri. Where is the midfield? Khader Youssef gets the blame along with whomever replaced Kawre'. There wasn't a red shirt within 10 yards of him.
7th Goal: Barghouthi had a good opportunity to intercept the ball, and fluffed it... badly. Shbair again came out (right decision) and promptly went to ground (wrong decision) even though Kazemian didn't have a clear shot at goal.