Rapid Reaction: Palestine 2:1 Indonesia (Nakba Cup)

Palestine celebrate Fahed Attal’s winner

Palestine Starting XI: Toufic Ali; Raed Fares, Ra’fit Eyad, Abdesalam Al-Sweikeri, Musa Abujazr; Hussam Abu Saleh, Roberto Kettlun, Murad Ismail, Amjad Zidan; Fahed Attal (C), Khaldoun Al-Halman

Substitutions: Al-Halman <-> Nu’man //  Kettlun <-> Khader Youssef // Zidan <-> Abuhabib 

Goals: Abu Saleh p. 40′, Attal 65′
HIGHLIGHTS available soon

Recap: Indonesia set out with a plan to attack the hosts and were largely successful in the first half. Knowing full well that they would be underdogs against Palestine, Indonesia were instructed to sit back but press the ball relentlessly. Palestine who were far too hurried in their play lost the ball far too cheaply and far too often. Indonesia would soon be rewarded for their efforts when speedster Irfan Bachdim cut through acres of space in front of the defense blew past Abdesallam Al-Sweikeri and slotted past Toufic Ali to make it 1-0.

When Palestine did create chances it came through patient build-up or precise passing. Roberto Kettlun had some rough moments in the first half but produced a brilliant lobbed pass to Khaldoun Al-Halman who played a ball for the onrushing Fahed Attal. Attal was given a penalty but the call was soft (Ahmed Maher wasn’t given a penalty against Pakistan in almost the exact same situation)- so Indonesian fans will feel a little hard done by. That said, Attal did receive treatment after the foul and could not take the penalty, so up stepped the veteran Abu Saleh to emphatically level the score.

Jamal Mahmoud rallied his troops at halftime instructing Roberto Kettlun and Murad Ismail to sit deeper. Mahmoud will no doubt be relishing the opportunity to have Omar Jarun and Roberto Bishara in his squad for the Arab Cup of Nations as both defenders are capable of handling themselves with minimal midfield cover. With no space to exploit- Indonesia struggled to create clear cut chances, Palestine also benefited from better decision making and ball retention.

The game turned with the entrance of Ashraf Nu’man. Within 30 seconds the Wadi Al-Nes winger had a shot on goal and didn’t have to wait much longer for his second shot on frame. Hussam Abu Saleh’s expert cutback pass found Nu’man whose shot was deflected out of goal only for Fahed Attal to slot it home.

Palestine would create a couple of more chances in the final 30 minutes but credit to the tenacious Indonesians who refused to fall apart. Palestine will be relieved to have overcome a sloppy first half and need to improve against Tunisia in the final.

What I liked: Palestine doesn’t have a lot of comeback victories to its name- only one at senior level (3-1 vs. Myanmar in 2012 Challenge Cup Qualifying). So credit to Jamal Mahmoud for tweaking his team in the second half.

What I didn’t like: To be quite honest the problem with the team during this tournament isn’t the fact that new players have been incorporated- it’s the fact that they’ve been too eager. It seems that the players have wanted to go out and be up 2-0 within the first 10 minutes en route to a total thrashing. They need to stick to the game plan goals scored in the second half count just as much as ones scored in the first 10 minutes.

What I really didn’t like: Hebron is home to some great fans but I can’t believe people threw water bottles at the Indonesian bench. Indonesia’s players have been class acts and shown a lot of solidarity towards the cause. I sincerely hope that this was just an isolated incident we should be rolling out the red carpet for our guests not attacking them.

Man of the Match: Husam Abu Saleh. The guy is a force to be reckoned with and plays brilliantly when unencumbered by defensive priorities. Scored the penalty and played a key role in the second goal.

What’s Next: Palestine take on Tunisia in the Final on Thursday May 24th at 4 PM.

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