|Defense dominated at yet another 2014 WAFF Championship game|
Palestine Starting XI: Saleh (C); Fares, Bahdari, Kabir Mustafá, Hijazi; Abu Saleh, Khader Yousef, Ismael, Zatara; Nu’man, Abugharqud.
Substitutions: Abugharqud <-> Salhe // Maher <-> Abu Saleh // Al-Swerki <-> Zatara ->->->
Cautions: Ashraf Nu’man, Daniel Kabir Mustafá
Recap: Jamal Mahmoud chose to make only a single change to the side that faced Qatar on Christmas Day. Samer Hijazi came in to replace Musa Abujazr who had taken ill but the general 4-4-1-1 structure was retained.
The math fell into a familiar pattern with Palestine ceding possession to the Saudi in favor of attempting to hit them on the break. With neither side respecting the other’s ability to hold onto the ball there was some high pressing during the opening stages at the game. Despite Saudi Arabia’s forays into Palestine’s box they failed to test Ramzi Saleh once in the entire half.
Despite Saudi looking the more creative Palestine had the best chance of the entire first half. Ashraf Nu’man was sprung free by Imad Zatara’s clever chip and would have put Palestine 1-0 up if not for Al-Bishi’s last second intervention. Fittingly, it ended honors even going into the first half.
In the second half Palestine were more comfortable dealing with the speed of the Saudis. A switch to a 4-3-3 formation allowed Palestine to find the necessary space on the wings. Imad Zatara took up the central spot up top flanked by Abugharqud and Nu’man.
Nu’man’s heavy touch let him down on one occasion and the only other chance to speak of was a shot from Imad Zatara which was skied high form 19 yards out. Saudi Arabia fared no better as only one shot required Ramzi Saleh to step up and save.
What I liked: Bahdari and DKM were incredibly solid throughout the tournament. In fact, you could make a highlight reel of those two putting out fires all over the pitch. It’s a shame their outstanding play was done-in by offensive incompetence on the other end of the pitch. Ramzi Saleh, much maligned in some circles, got himself a clean sheet.
What I didn’t like: I am not a fan of the 4-4-2 formation especially when there isn’t an abundance of natural strikers at our disposal. It also seemed to leave our midfield discombobulated, once the switch to a 4-3-3 was made there was more fluidity in our play.
Settling for a draw: Taking off Zatara and putting on Al-Swerki was a change that should have been made in the first game. Palestine needed a win in this game- it was disappointing to see Mahmoud hold off on any bold changes. With Abugharqud misfiring, Ibrahim Swidan should have been given a chance to strut his stuff.
What’s Next: No friendlies have been scheduled by the PFA as of yet. With the AFC Challenge Cup bein gthe big goal for this team they would be served by taking advantage of FIFA dates in February, March