What: Arab Cup of Nations Group Stage Match
When: June 25th, 2012
Where: King Fahd Stadium, Taif, KSA
Kickoff: 18:30 (Local)
Stream: TBA (check Twitter for latest updates)
Palestine kicks off an Arab Nations Cup campaign that nearly never got underway. Initially the organizing committee determined that only the sixteen best ranked nations (per the dubious FIFA ranking) would be invited to participate. Almost immediately teams started withdrawing- Syria for political reasons, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, and Algeria elected to focus on their respective World Cup qualifying campaigns. In the end, the organizing committee settled on a 12-team format identical to the one used at the Pan-Arab Games. Then the United Arab Emirates- drawn alongside Palestine, Kuwait, and hosts Saudi Arabia in Group A withdrew as well.
Kuwait’s Serbian manager announced today that he will hand starts to the players who didn’t participate in the 4-0 shellacking at the hands of Saudi Arabia. Whether or not this be to Palestine’s advantage remains to be seen but it’s hard to believe that Kuwait can play any worse than they did three days ago.
How will Palestine Lineup?
There are some certainties for Jamal Mahmoud- Ramzi Saleh will continue towards his epic quest to become Palestine’s first centurion (due to get his 73rd cap tomorrow). Question marks are at right back and across midfield. Will Raed Fares get the start or will the more attack-minded Hussam Abu Saleh be given the go ahead? The identity of Roberto Kettlun’s meaner midfield partner is also up in the air- Mahmoud will have to choose from Houssam Wadi, Khader Youssef, or Murad Ismail.
The other pressing question is whether or not Mahmoud trusts Ashraf Nu’man enough to start him over an established veteran like Zatara or Amour.