Palestine Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Saleh (C), Harbi, Deeb, Bahdari, Abujazr; Abu Rwais, Ismail, Khader Yousef, Samara, Ashraf Nu’man; Abuhabib
Substitutes: 32′ Abu Rwais <-> Abu Saleh // 46′ Abuhabib <-> Amour // 59′ Samara <-> Zidan // 72′ Khader Yousef <-> Sheikhqasem // 80′ Ashraf Nu’man <-> Maen Jamal // 81′ Ramzi Saleh <-> Rami Hammadeh->->->->->->
Recap: A performance unlike others put forth by sides led by Jamal Mahmoud. This team has gotten off to lackadaisical starts before but always had a knack for rebounding superbly. This time around the team survived the first 20 minutes of the match only to unravel promptly thereafter.
From the outset the Jordanians targeted the left hand side of defence, knowing full well that Palestine had been exploited on that end by the likes of Kuwait in recent months and through their persistence the tactic paid off. The opener came when Ramzi Saleh spilled a long range effort into the path of Hassan Abdelfattah who was left wide open after ghosting in on the left hand side. Minutes later Ahmed Hayel was left so ridiculously free on the left hand side that he had time to cut in, elude a defender take three dribbles, and finish. Jordan added a third just before halftime through a cutback pass that found Said Murjan free on the right after the entire Palestinian backline had shifted to the left.
It would unfair though to pin all the blame on Musa Abujazr. Palestine did not play well tonight they were uninventive in attack and clumsy in possession. Some of their more reliable players were also not a their best tonight, absent from the highlight reel were the one to two saves we’ve grown accustomed to seeing Ramzi Saleh make. On the other side of the pitch, Ashraf Nu’man was kept in check and several players lauded for their ability were missing in action.
When you show up unprepared and play poorly you tend to concede three in the space of 45 minutes. That is what happened tonight.
The second half was slightly better but the mistakes were still evident and nothing was done at halftime to mask the giant hole on the left hand side of defence. Murad Ismail’s screamer of a consolation goal evidenced that these players are talented and have more to offer; unfortunately it seemed they just forgot to show up tonight.
Man of the Match: Abdelatif Bahdari brings a measure of calmness to the backline but even he can’t make up for the fact that Musa Abujazr can’t play left back. He was a commanding presence on set pieces and cut out every single aerial cross Jordan put into the box with aplomb.
What I liked: I would rather play a friendly against a strong team and get plastered than go through the motions against a minnow. These are the games where you learn and improve. Palestine lost to Jordan 4-1 at the Pan Arab Games in 2011 and used it as a springboard to advance out of the Group Stage. The same needs to be done here.
What I didn’t like: The effort. It wasn’t there tonight. Palestine have played friendlies without adequate preparation before. In April, a B-team held Qatar scoreless for 80 minutes and carved out a two or three chances that could have led to a smash and grab win. In that loss the defence was more organized and tactically the team was aware of their responsibilities. A lack of fitness can’t be an excuse for conceding thrice in the first 45 minutes. The team’s performances over the past 12 months are evidence that they can play A LOT better than this.
Striking Options: Palestine need to find someone, anyone who can actual play the role of a lone striker. Abuhabib can’t do it and although Amour’s speed stretched Jordan’s defence from time to time he offers very little in terms of hold up play. Eyad Abugharqud, Khaled Salem, and Mu’ath Mustafa may not be world beaters but they’re the best we’ve got.
Postgame Comments from Jamal Mahmoud: