|2013 Allsvenskan Golden Boot Winner: Imad Khalili|
Earlier this week, Sweden manager Erik Hamren revealed his squad for the annual winter camp due to be held in the warmer climes of Southeast Asia.
Typically, this type of news barely makes waves in Scandinavia never mind the Middle East.
It was of particular interest for the PFA and fans of the national team because Imad Khalili was called up to join the camp.
This leaves the 26 year old Helsingborgs forward is now faced with a choice: Continue the process of making his one-time nationality switch or hold off to see if there is a chance that he could break into Hamren’s first team squad.
From a professional standpoint, it’s easy to see why a player would pick a team like Sweden over a team like Palestine. The Swedes have participated at every single European Championship since Euro 2000 while also qualifying for World Cup 2002 and 2006. They may have missed out on the last two World Cups; but only by the thinnest of margins.
Point being that the top Swedish players can aim to participate on the world’s biggest stage.
But should Khalili choose to stick the course with Sweden?
My suggestion to him would be to proceed with caution. Khalili could take Palestine to the next level. They have been missing a natural finisher since the decline of Murad Alyan and to have someone of Khalili’s quality could help overturn those close results against West Asian foes.
Should he chose to play for Palestine he would almost certainly be the best player at the AFC Challenge Cup and his goals could deliver Palestine’s first ever Asian Cup participation.
Picking Sweden may seem like a no-brainer but it comes with considerable risk. Hamren has ignored Khalili for the better part of four years; only a switch to a more advanced role and a 15-goal haul was able to force Hamren’s hand.
Even if Khalili preforms well at the upcoming winter camp he is dealing with a manager who has been in the position for four years. Hamren already has his ideas and his core group of guys- it would be hard for anyone to force his way into the squad, let alone someone without a cap to his name.
Imad Khalili should ask himself why Hamren ignored him for so many years while handing opportunities to his U21 teammates.
Palestine may not be the obvious choice but look at the precedence of success. In 2013, players with previous call-ups to the United States national teams have switched allegiance to West Asian sides.
Soony Saad was one of the top young talents in Major League Soccer with caps and goals to his name at U20 level. Instead of waiting his turn with the US he managed to walk straight into The Cedars’ setup and give them a different element in attack.
Steven Beitashour, 26, is without a doubt the best right back in Major League Soccer but after being somewhat overlooked by Jürgen Klinsmann decided to switch allegiances to Iran.
It may not be the obvious choice but by choosing Palestine Khalili could have a long and fruitful career at international level.