Rapid Reaction: Palestine 1:5 Jordan (2015 Asian Cup)

Al-Dardour scores Jordan’s third

Palestine Starting XI: Saleh (C), Al-Battat, Salah, Bahdari, Jaber; Ismael, Slahe; Abu Saleh, Abuhabib, Ihbeisheh; Ashraf Nu’man. 

Substitutions: Ismail Amour <--> Husam Abu Saleh // Khader Yousef <--> Hesham Salhe // Mahmoud Eid <--> Ashraf Nu’man 

Goals: Jaka Ihbeisheh 85′

Cautions: Ramzi Saleh 82′

Recap: Despite an energetic first stanza to the game, Palestine were condemned to one of the most painful losses in their history. Coning into the match Palestine had high hopes, many fans thought this would be a key opportunity to grab three points against a dysfunctional Jordan team. The Nashama had not won in 10 games under Wilkins and entered the match having lost five straight- managing a meager goal in the process.

To make matters worse, Jordan’s English manager had shown up to the press conference visibly drunk. To all present, it seemed that Jordan was on the brink of disaster.

That disaster may have come to be had Hesham Salhe’s long range rasper found the back of the net eight minutes in. Alas, Amr Shafi did enough to deflect it and the crossbar proved to be his saving grace. Palestine were still adept enough over the first half an hour limiting Jordan while carving out half chances of their own.

In the 33rd minute, Palestine were made to pay for defensive confusion. With the line neglecting to press in front of the box, Yusuf Al-Rawashdeh collected the ball and curled it beautifully for the opener.

 The winner would arrive two minutes later, Odai Al-Saify blindly cleared the ball forward and an on rushing Abdullah Deeb blew past Abdellatif Bahdari and although Ramzi Saleh cut out his angle the shot across the face of goal met the foot of Al Dardour for an easy tap in.

With Palestine’s mental state shaken they would proceed to let up another goal at the stroke of halftime. Al-Dardour again lost his marker (did he even have a marker?) and popped up for another opportunistic finish.

3-0 at halftime for the second time in four days.

The second half saw Palestine improve with inclusion of Ismail Amour. His pace and trickery gave Jordan fits and theybwere lucky to escape bookings for rash tackles on the Gazan.

Palestine were unlucky not to grab a goal over the next 30 minutes. The best chance falling to Al-Battat courtesy of Nu’man’s cut back pass. Amr Shafi made a spectacular Dave to deny the 21-year old his first international goal.

Ashraf Nu’man’s substitution with a quarter of an hour to play was perplexing as he was of Plaestine’s best players on the day. Palestine were punished by two fast breaks shortly thereafter- Al-Dardour the tormentor again.

Palestine fans were given a long awaited moment of joy in the 85th minute. Mahmoud Eid’s free kick found Jaka Ihbeisheh lurking at the far post. The Slovenian born winger ensured his place in the annals of Palestinian football with a measured finish. 5-1 to Jordan but judging by the reaction in the stands you would be forgiven for thinking it was Palestine’s fifth goal.

What I liked: The fans for the second straight game created a fantastic atmosphere. I also thought Palestine were fantastic in the opening 15 minutes of either half- it’s a shame that that didn’t translate to goals.

What I didn’t like: The squad selection was completely wrong for this game. Amour should have started alongside our only true striker- Mahmoud Eid. With speed on the wings we exposed Jordan’s weaknesses repeatedly. There were chances and balls being played in the box that Eid could have finished. Defensively, it might have been better to use Al-Battat as a partner to Bahdari. His speed could have negated the threat of Al-Dardour.

Man of the Match: Jaka Ihbeisheh for making history and never giving up. Kudos to him for staying back to applaud the fans and for throwing his jersey into the stands.

Up Next: Palestine travel to Canberra to take on Iraq. They will need a win, a Japan win, and a 11 goal swing to qualify for the quarterfinals.