Rapid Reaction: Qatar 1:0 Palestine (2014 WAFF Championship)

Palestine Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Ramzi Saleh; Abu Saleh, Bahdari, Kabir Musatfá, Abujazar; Abu Saleh, Ismael, Khader Yousef, Imad Zatara; Ashraf Nu’man, Abugharqud. 

Substitutions: Ahmed Maher <-> Zatara // Hesham Salhe <-> Abu Saleh <-> // Mohammed Qasim <-> Ashraf Nu’man

Cautions: Ashraf Nu’man, Khader Yousef

Goals: Muayed Hassan (QAT) 89′ 

Recap: In a match characterized by offensive futility at both ends it was Qatar who managed to will their way to a win. Palestine were playing in their official match since facing Qatar back in April 2013, but this was a little different. Back in April, a full contingent of Qatari stars faced off against Palestine’s B-team. This time around it was a case of role reversal.

In the first half, Palestine succeeded in nullifying Qatar’s attack and despite ceding 62% of possession Qatar seemed to lack ideas. Qatar’s only true chance in the first half came on a long range effort that Ramzi Saleh spilled but collected at the second time of asking.

In the final embers of the first half, a golden chance was presented to Eyad Abugharqud. Imad Zatara had galloped into attacking position on a pristine counter and timed his through pass excellently for the Jordan-based forward. Unfortunately for Abugharqud he skied his shot with the goal mouth and two teammates at his disposal.

For the first part of the second half Palestine settled and took a more patient approach to their build up play. There were flashes of the team we have become accustomed seeing under Mahmoud- one that is patient in buildup but there seemed to be a lack of a cutting edge. Abugharqud, Murad Ismail, and Khader Yousef could have all put Palestine up 1-0.

Over the last twenty minutes, Qatar started to force the issue and Djamel Belmadi made changes that served to expose Palestine’s vulnerability on the flanks.

Just as it seemed we were headed for a 0-0 stalemate a long switching ball made its way to the left flank, Abujazar hesitated in closing his man down which gave the attacker just enough time to fine Mouayed Hassan just enough time to finish off the best chance of the game with virtually no time left on the clock.

What I liked: Defensive solidity had been missing from this side for a while. It was good to see it on display for 89 minutes.

What I didn’t like: In general, I thought the team was very flat in attack and seemed to revert to the hold hoof and hope tactics. They settled for a period in the second half but hopefully we’ll see a more sound performance against Saudi Arabia in three days time.

Man of the Match: Daniel Kabir Mustafá. Although partially at fault for the goal- he masked Abujazar’s defensive frailties brilliantly. He was never afraid to step up and break up a play or confront an attacker one-on-one.

What’s Next: Palestine face Saudi Arabia at 1430 GMT on December 28th. They will need a win plus a combination of other results in order to clinch passage into the semifinals of the tournament.

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