|Ihbeisheh (c) becomes the first Palestine NT player to play in the Qatari league|
Jaka Ihbeisheh voided the last year of his contract with Slovenian side NK Rudar Velenje to facilitate a move the Qatar Gas League. Al-Shamal- will aim to bounce back up to the Qatar Stars League and will lean heavily on the 29-year old's experience and versatility. He will wear the #11 shirt when the season kicks off in October and will be the first Palestinian national team player to play in Qatar.
|Shaban sporting Palestino's tricolor jersey|
Speaking of firsts, Shadi Shaban has signed a loan deal to play for CD Palestino of the Chilean Primera. While the club has had ex-national teamers in its ranks (Roberto Bishara, Peto Kettlun) and Palestinians who have gone on to play for Chile (Luis Jiminez) Shadi Shaban becomes the first player from the Palestinian league to play for the club.
Shaban also becomes the first player national team player born in Palestine to play professionally in South America. Palestinian players have only played professionally in Asia and Africa thus far.
As we reported previously, the Malaysian Super League's fascination with Palestinian players kicked into overdrive this summer with Jonathan Cantillana (Kuala Lumpur FA) and Yashir Pinto Islame (Malacca United) joining Matias Jadue in the Far East.
In Palestine, three clubs have emerged as serious contenders for the 2016/17 WBPL title.
Holders Shabab Al-Khaleel may have lost the services of Abdelatif Bahdari (who signed for Egyptian side Tale'a El-Geish) and Tamer Seyam but they wasted no time in adding reinforcements.
Ashraf Nu'man returns to the WBPL after two years abroad in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. A successful stint with Al-Faisaly (KSA) was followed up with a somewhat underwhelming move to Al-Wehdat. With the Jordanian giants, Ashraf Nu'man's form fell off a cliff and the club decided to sell him back to the Saudi Pro League- the only takers however, were basement dwellers Hajer. A lone goal (scored in his second game) was all he had to show for his 2015/16 season.
Ala'a Abu Saleh spent a decade with Bnei Sakhnin- rising through the ranks to captain the side and earning 200 appearances along the way. He is expected to replace Bahdari in the center of defence and could provide much needed cover for the position at the national team level.
To his right, Alexis Norambuena- out of contract with La Serena (CHI)- will marshall the right back position.
The team is also further boosted with the addition of two other national team starters. Goalkeeper Toufic Ali will look to put a nightmare of a season with Dora behind him (the team staved off relegation by virtue of goal difference only).
Pablo Tamburrini will operate in the center of midfield as his move to Al-Bireh didn't end with a much sought after promotion to the first tier.
Also joining the squad are former CD Palestino youth product, Nelson Beltran & ex-Shabab Al-Dhahrieh midfielder Mustafa Abu Rahal.
Not to be undone, Hilal Al-Quds are looking to restore glory to the capital. The past couple of seasons were particularly tough for Hilal with a steady stream of stars (Abdallah Jaber, Haitham Dheeb, and Peto Kettlun) departing the team. The spine of the team has been strengthened with Mohammed Darwish (ex-Dhahrieh) and Osama Shaban (ex-Ahli) are expected to shield the defence that now includes Mohammed Abu Khamis (ex-Taraji).
Further up the pitch, Tamer Seyam arrives from Shabab Al-Khaleel and should dove-tail well with former Oryxes pair Ahmad Thiyab and Abed Murjan in a new look attack.
Another team to watch out for this season is Thaqafi Tulkarem whose two marquee signings could make them extremely potent in attack. Sameh and Mohammed Maraaba signed from Khader FC after a season that saw both brothers voted into the WBPL team of the year. With a solid core of young players- and one of the best goalkeepers in Palestine in Rami Hammadi this could be the season The Maroons take that next step.