Perhaps the most frustrating part of being a fan of Palestine is having to put up with the inept PFA and their disorganization. Granted, most fans across the world have nothing but hate for their Football Associations regardless of how the national teams are doing on the pitch. Palestine’s situation, is as always, unique. The fans don’t ask much from the PFA just organize the domestic tournaments, hire a competent coaching staff, and make sure the national team can meet up regularly to contest friendlies on FIFA sanctioned days. Well in the past two months the PFA has failed on all counts. They started by caving to popular demand and electing not to renew Moussa Bezaz’s contract and immediately announced that they were searching for a foreign manager with international experience to guide the team.
So far, so good.
Three weeks later the PFA agrees to a hastily organized friendly against Indonesia. The team is without a manager, without many of its top players (both foreign and domestic based), and has to re-adjust the schedule of the Yasser Arafat Cup.
Four weeks into the WBPL season the preseason special that is the Yasser Arafat Cup has yet to be completed. There is no word on how close the team is to finding a new manager, or if a domestic-based manager will take charge on an interim basis, or a friendly against South Africa is still going to be held.
So in order to help our friends at the PFA out, we’ve decided to formulate a list of possible candidates. The right manager could make all the difference and very rarely do Arab teams make the right call when hiring a foreign manager. Those of you who follow us on Twitter (@FutbolPalestine) will know that I have been very excited about Bob Bradley taking over Egypt. This is the kind of coach who either doesn’t get hired or isn’t provided with enough support to succeed in this part of the world.
Palestine doesn’t need a big name or a famous player to come in and take over the national team job. It needs someone like Bob Bradley. Palestine can become a much better team if it has a manager that stresses physical fitness, discipline, and organization. As I said before the talent that Jordan has is comparable to the talent on this side of the river. In fact, I would much rather have Ramzi Saleh over Amer Shafi’ in goal. In front of him I would rather have Abusidu, Bahdari, Jarun, and Bishara than Abu Attieh, the Bani Yasseen Bros., and Fathi. The reason why they are still in the running for Brazil 2014 (asides from a favorable draw) and we aren’t comes down to the factors I just mentioned.
Below is a list of every manager that has popped into my head as a possible contender for the job:
Avoid at All Costs:
Lothar Matthäus: Has spent the past 10 years building up experience as a manager in Serbia, Austria, Brazil, Israel, Hungary, and most recently with the Bulgarian National Team. If I were to put money on it I bet he’ll land somewhere in the Gulf very soon. People know him for his amazing career with Germany but he has replicated that form with the Hungarian or Bulgarian National Teams. He has walked out on teams before when the going has gotten tough (Hungary and Atletico Paranaense) and is known to be a very, very abrasive person. He was called in to steady the Bulgarian National Team and did the exact opposite.
Ezzat Hamzeh: Sometimes teams return to old managers in a time of need. He would be my absolute last choice. Some notable achievements- failed to qualify for the 2010 Challenge Cup and deciding Majed Abusidu was a holding midfielder.
Srecko Katanec: His first game in charge of the UAE came against Palestine back in 2009. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and the team played very well in the first half. By his own admission, Katanec had a group of very lazy and unprofessional players in the UAE. If he took the Palestine job he would be in charge of a group of committed and passionate individuals but who would need to be coached up. Katanec has managed underdogs before he got Slovenia to Euro 2000 and the World Cup Finals in 2002 and did a solid job with Macedonia before taking the UAE helm.
Alfred Riedl: I took the liberty of contacting him. He would be interested in taking over the job and in his latest stint as manager of Indonesia had an 81% winning percentage. Indonesian fans rate him and blame and inept FA (notice the theme here?) for unjustly firing him. He was manager of Palestine during the 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign- his finest hour were the 8-0 hammering of Chinese Taipei and a 1-1 draw with Iraq. Riedl managed these feats without organized training camps or a steady league from which to choose the players from. Imagine what he could do with the resources available today.
Zlatko Kranjcar: I had been suggested for his predecessor as manager of Montenegro- Zoran Filipovic but he has since taken a job in Kazakhstan. Under Kranjcar, Montenegro became masters of the 1-0 scoreline going on a seven game (including four Euro 2012 qualifiers) win streak without conceding a single goal.
Hisham Al-Zoabi: Recently left Al-Am’ary due to the club not paying him his wages. He won the league title with Al-Am’ary last year and left them at the top of the table this year after three matchdays. He has experience coaching and scouting players and has proven that he knows how to get the best out of his players. If the PFA is looking for someone to take control of the team on an interim role, Al-Zoabi is their guy.