Rapid Reaction: Palestine 0:2 Bahrain (Friendly)

Swing… and a miss! Palestine’s attacking play lacked the final touch

Palestine Starting XI (4-4-2): Toufic Ali; Raed Fares, Nadim Barghouthi, Khaled Mahdi, Musa Abu Jazar; Husam Abu Saleh, Ma’ly Kawre’ (C), Khader Yousef, Imad Zatara; Ashraf Nu’man, Eyad Abugharqud

Substitutions: Ali <-> Shbair 46′ // Abu Saleh <-> Naboulse 57′ // Kawre’ <-> Wadi 63′ // Nu’man <-> Abuhabib 70′ // Abu Jazar <-> Salameh 75′ // Zatara <-> Al-Halman 80′

Cautions: Ma’ly Kawre’

Highlights: First Half // Second Half 

Recap: A funny game that ran counter to the history of this fixture. Bahrain won but the way they won was very similar to the way Palestine won last year’s friendly. Al-Fursan started out playing at an extremely fast tempo inside three minutes Abu Jazar had hit the crossbar from a free kick. Less than three minutes later Zatara was clean through on goal but his shot was well saved by a desperate goalkeeper who had sprinted off his line. Ashraf Nu’man was causing the Bahraini defence fits and he won numerous free kicks in dangerous positions. After a dominant first 20 minutes, the unexpected happened- Bahrain scored. It was their first shot on goal and it came off a poorly defended free kick.

Palestine continued to attack and should have equalized through Ashraf Nu’man who wrongly chose power over placement. The Faisaly star busted the offsides trap minutes later but his pass to Abugharqud was misplaced and caused a promising chance to evaporate.

The second half was very emblematic of an international friendly. Both sides were disjointed after a slew of substitutions but Bahrain became more adept at exploiting the counterattack. Jaycee John doubled his adopted nation’s lead in the — minute and the game fizzled from there although Bahrain could have had a third had it better exploited the lapses in the Palestinian defence.

What I liked: The first half, despite the scoreline, was some of the best football I’ve seen Palestine play. They could have easily been up 2-0 in the first six minutes. If the finishing improves a very promising WAFF Championship could be in order.

What I didn’t like: Set piece defending on the first goal was atrocious. Although the side’s stamina has improved since the first friendly against Syria it’s still far from ideal.

Makeshift Captain: Ma’ly Kawre’ captained the side and the armband, which was in fact blue athletic tape, was passed on to Houssam Wadi and not Khader Yousef captained the side against Syria.

What we learned: Musa Abu Jazar cannot be played at left back at this level. His positioning was suspect in the first half and in the second half the formation had to be changed in order to protect him. Despite the tactical change, Abu Jazar continued to struggle. Alexis should start vs. Kuwait but if he is incapacitated for any reason expect 18 year old Hani Nabousle to fill the role.

Ma’ly Kawre’ also played his way out of the lineup. His clumsy foul led to the first goal and he kept on fouling in the attacking third until he found himself in the book. Kawre’s fouling style is incredibly frustrating to watch as well, he clatters into the attacker from behind and then puts his hands up to proclaim his innocence. The question is whether Wadi or Abu Jazar starts alongside Khader Yousef.

Injuries: Will Ismail Amour and Fahed Attal be available come December 8th? This photo seems to suggest not. 

What’s Next: Palestine will look to arrange one more friendly or scrimmage before departing Qatar for Kuwait on December 6th.

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