What a year it was for Palestinian Football! Check out our Top 10 list below….
10. Abed Jaber Emerges
This time last year everyone was fretting about the left back position. The intermittent availability of Alexis Norambuena meant that Palestine were faced with the distinct possibility of having to clinch Asian Cup qualification without the GKS Belchatow star. The body of evidence was overwhelming Palestine had conceded goals from the left flank against Philippines in the 2012 Challenge Cup, Kuwait in the 2012 WAFF Championship, and Qatar in the 2014 WAFF Championship. All three games were decided by the odd goal.
Enter stage left Abed Jaber. The unknown 21-year old had a great year with Hilal Al-Quds that earned him a call up to the pre-Challenge Cup training camp in Qatar. On May 19th, he earned his first cap against Kyrgyzstan he would add nine more before the year was out. His excellent performance will most likely allow Alexis to play in his preferred role as a right back.
9. Javier Cohene Commits
In only 20 minutes of play, the Paraguay-born defender has captured the imagination of Palestinian fans. He’s got his first cap, goal, and clean sheet. Having 100 appearance in Portugal under his belt fans will be eagerly awaiting his second act.
8. Rami Hamadeh stands tall vs. Brazil
In the most unlikely of friendly encounters Palestine’s Olympic Team faced Brazil in Qatar. The Fida’i
held on for 70 minutes but fell 3-0. Spearheading their efforts was Rami Hamadeh whose performances clinched him a ticket to Australia. Might we be looking at Palestine’s goalkeeper of the future?
7. Ashraf Nu’man moves to Saudi Arabia
We all knew what Ashraf was capable of he had already dominated the WBPL, the Jordanian Premier League, and Palestine’s opponents. The winger had been in great goal-scoring form since Jamal Mahmoud took the reins of the national team and his big money move to Al-Faisaly was a long time coming. He has since laid many Saudi Pro League defenses to waste with four goals in 11 games from a midfield position. Some of them have been true beauties as well!
6. This Hilal Musa Goal
5. Hesham Salhe’s rocket vs. Vietnam
First International Goal. Check.
4. Mahmoud Eid Joins the Fold
Palestine have a striker who scores goals! He got off the mark for Palestine in his second cap vs. Vietnam.
3. Palestino romp en route to Copa Libertadores qualification
Palestine celebrates Palestino’s win
Palestine’s most famous club ended a a 36 year absence from South America’s premier competition. Under Argentine manager Pablo Guede they seemed longshots to qualify for the Apertura post season but won six straight in the final month of the season to clinch qualification. Palestino had been to the postseason before but they could never quite find a way to win the Liguilla. This time around there would be no denying Los Árabes, they dispatched of Huachipato in the first round 6-1 on aggregate.
For their follow-up act they took Apertura runners up Santiago Wanderers to the cleaners. A 3-1 away loss for Wanderers gave them a glimmer of hope that the tie could be rescued. Palestino made sure that wasn’t to be the case jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. The goals continued to pour in and when it was all over Palestine had won 9-2 on aggregate.
Palestino will be back in action on January 14th against Deportes Antofagasta in the Copa de Chile semifinal. Their big date however is in February when they take on Uruguayan giants CD Nacional in the Copa Libertadores qualifying playoff.
2. Palestine amaze at Asian Games
Palestine had never won a game (0-1-8) and never scored a goal at the Asian Games before 2014. Abdel-Nasser Barakat’s men changed all that sweeping aside Oman and Tajikistan en route to winning their group.
1. Ashraf Nu’man clinches Asian Cup qualification
I could watch this over and over again….