|Palestine were left to pick up the pieces.
An underprepared and shorthanded Palestine side slumped to one of their worst defeats of the Jamal Mahmoud era losing to unfancied Myanmar 4-1. Ahmed Maher scored the lone goal for Palestine in the dying minutes of regular time.
A lack of visual evidence makes it hard to diagnose exactly what went wrong but its safe to say that the ingredients for a shocking performance were in place before a ball was kicked.
The success of a national team depends on a variety of factors and pedigree alone will not guarantee results at this level. No team in the world can expect a group of players fresh still in preseason mode to turn on the switch in 36 hours and produce a coherent performance. Moreover, this team was made up 13 players total- including two goalkeepers and had one training session under the belt before lining up on the pitch.
We have seen this from the PFA before. 13 months ago, a side was sent to play Jordan on a whim and the team lost 4-1 under very similar circumstances. Before the Challenge Cup in 2012, Mahmoud’s men played a match against the UAE mere hours after landing in the country- they slumped to a 3-0 loss but by the time their Dubai camp was over had secured a famous win versus Azerbaijan.
It seems that the PFA spent the past three months basking in the glow of Asian Cup qualification instead of putting together a serious plan. Yes, friendlies were organized- but that in itself isn’t enough. No professional setup should be announcing league and cup start dates weeks before they are set to start. Schedules are put together MONTHS in advance and the national team should have been afforded a camp before this series of friendlies. This would have given an opportunity to some WBPL players to assert themselves and would have ensure that basic things like fitness and communication were addressed.
Alternatively, the PFA could have had the Olympic Team play this tournament- it would have given younger players a chance to prove themselves against two Challenge Cup opponents. It would have also been a cost saving maneuver seeing as how the u-23s are already preparing for the Asian Games in Incheon.
Funny enough in the midst of all this disorganization, the national team managed to find locate a talented defender with Palestinian Roots. Javier Cohene wasn’t around for the first game but should make his debut vs. Chinese Taipei on Saturday.
It will be interesting to see how players react to this setback. At the very least, it should put them in the proper frame of mind. If we want to achieve anything in January we will have to strive to improve on an individual and collective basis.