Rapid Reaction: UAE 3:0 Palestine (Friendly)

Palestine Starting XI (4-4-2): Shbair, Fares, Harbi, Barghouthi, M Abujazr; Abu Saleh, Kawre’, Khader Youssef, Ashraf Nu’man; Attieh, Attal 

Substitutions: Attieh <-> Abuhabib / Shbair <-> Toufic Ali / Barghouthi <-> Mahdi /
Attal <-> Khaled Salem / Kawre’ <-> Elkadi / Nu’man <-> Ahmed Maher

Recap: A pretty dull affair over 90 minutes both sides will feel that they have a lot to improve on. Poor set piece marking allowed the UAE to take the lead after just four minutes of play. They doubled their score less than 10 minutes later when Abu Saleh’s raised leg tripped over an onrushing Emirati player resulting in a penalty. The penalty seemed fair but rather soft given the fact that Abu Saleh had won the ball convincingly before any sort of contact was made. Palestine showed flashes of their ability over the 90 minutes but were hampered by an obvious lack of chemistry. Things went from bad to worse when Attieh had to be replaced after 20 minutes due to a foot injury.

Palestine were better in the second half but could not translate periods where they had the upper hand into goals. Fahed Attal and Abdelhamid Abuhabib came close to reducing the score in the second half. The game ended on a sour note as Raed Fares picked up a second yellow to give the UAE yet another penalty. Replays showed very little contact but it was perhaps fitting that Fares’s horrendous day came to an early and merciful end.

What I liked: Jamal Mahmoud tried out some new players and you get the sense that Mahmoud has a better idea of what his final Challenge Cup squad will look like. A lot of the young players were given opportunities and did well in difficult circumstances. Mahmoud picked out Abdelhamid Abuhabib and goalkeeper Toufic Ali for praise.

What I didn’t like: Palestine remains defensively frail and potentially self destructive and in yet another game gifted goals off corners and spot kicks. Raed Fares had been solid if not spectacular as a makeshift left back but struggled in his natural position on the right. Mahmoud likes his fullbacks to bomb forward and neither he nor Abujazr did that today and their poor performances might cost them a trip to Nepal. Look for Ahmed Harbi, Ali Elkadi, and Mohammed Ghannam to be given an opportunity in next week’s friendly. Fahed Attal looked very isolated up top especially after Attieh’s early exit for all his talent it is quite clear that he is more of a withdrawn forward than a striker.

What I didn’t like (part deux): I am prepared to offer a cash reward for the burning of those disgusting red Peak jerseys.

Challenge Cup squad: Jamal Mahmoud confirmed that Ramzi Saleh, Mohammed Samara, Houssam Wadi, Haitham Dheeb, Rafit Eyad, and possibly Murad Ismail would be a part of the Challenge Cup squad. No comment was given as to the status of the five Lebanon-based players that were called up.

What’s next: Palestine faces a UEFA opponent for the first time in their history when they meet Azerbaijan in Dubai on Wednesday February, 29th.

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