|Jamal Mahmoud (L) led Palestine to a 2015 Asian Cup berth|
With Ahmad El Hassan no longer charged with pulling double-duty as the PFA’s Technical director and national team manager the PFA is now in the market for a new man to lead Al-Fid’ai. Below is a list of candidates that should be considered for the role….
1. Samir Issa
|Issa: Experience on both sides of the Green Line|
A journeyman coach who has been successful in stints across the WBPL. A Palestinian citizen of Israel, Samir Issa brings a wealth of player knowledge from the other side of the green line and has been instrumental in bringing some great talents to the West Bank. He won two leagues in the same year with Jabal Al-Mukaber and Maccabi Umm El-Fahm- somehow managing both at the same time! If hired, the PFA will be going back to the well that sprung Jamal Mahmoud. Samir Issa has led a fantastic rebuilding project at Hilal Al-Quds this past season bringing in Obediah Zbeidat from Bnei Sakhnin and rolling the dice with Ismail Amour (who has been brilliant) and Khaled Salem (who has found new life as a CB). Nearly every player from inside the Green Line that Samir Issa scouts and recruits ends up being very effective. This scouting network should only bolster his credentials for the national team job. His knowledge of the players, league, and passion for the job should make him the front-runner for the role.
2. Abdel-Nasser Barakat
|Barakat: Already on the payroll|
Barakat’s stock has risen considerably since his fantastic performance with the Olympic Team at the Asian Games. In fact, it came as a shock to many that he wasn’t given the role on an interim basis following Jamal Mahmoud’s departure. Although perhaps not the most alluring name on the list- Barakat’s appointment would make a lot of sense. There seem to be a whole host of Olympic Team players ready to make the jump (Mohammed Mar’aba, Hilal Musa, and Islam Batran come to mind) and there is no one who is better acquainted with these players. If he can get the senior team to play like their Olympic counterparts then this marriage could be a successful one.
3. Abdel-Fattah Arrar
|Arrar: Knows how to get the best out of Ashraf Nu’man|
Last season, Taraji Wadi Al-Nes took the WBPL title on the back of Ashraf Nu’man’s goals, Khader Yousef’s bossing of the midfield, and Toufic Ali’s clean sheets. A good manager is able to exploit the talents of his best players and Ashraf Nu’man finished as top scorer of the WBPL in 2013/14. Arrar might not have the pedigree of some of the other names on this list and the indifferent start Tarji had this season may count against him. That said, Tarji opened the second half of the season with a 6-1 thumping of Jabal Al-Mukaber and a good performance later this month in the AFC Cup could bolster his credentials.
4. Adnan Hamad
|Hamad: Looks scary, gets results.|
The popular, most cited choice by fans and the players. Palestine fans will no doubt be overjoyed if this appointment were to happen but it seems rather unlikely. Adnan Hamad led Jordan to the playoff rounds of World Cup qualifying before refusing to renew his contract. Seemingly, Hamed left hoping to get a chance to lead a bigger team to even greater glory. In early 2014 he was appointed as manager of Bani Yas (UAE) but was out at the end of the season after only managing 7 points out of 30.
The Iraqi resurfaced in Bahrain in August but a dour Gulf Cup saw him get the sack with the team failing to score or register a win in three games.
If the PFA were to consider his hiring they would need to find a way to get him past Israeli border control. When, Iraq’s Al-Quwwa Al-Jawiyya played in Palestine two years ago in a UAFA Club Cup match some players were not allowed to enter the country. Moreover, Jamal Mahmoud- a citizen of Jordan (a state that does recognize Israel)- went months without being able to enter Palestine because of his inability to secure an entry visa.
Hiring Adnan Hamad would be a coup for Palestine and the Iraqi is more than capable of propelling them to the same heights as Jordan but there may be too many logistical problems that would present this move from ever becoming a reality.
5. Theo Bücker
|Bücker: Takes a hands-on approach|
Bücker gets fewer plaudits than Adnan Hamed for his work with the Lebanese national team but his results are arguably more impressive. Lebanon were a complete mess when Bücker took over- this was a team that probably wouldn’t have made it out of the preliminary round had they not been drawn against lowly Bangladesh. Even then, the Cedars lost the away leg 2-0 and were lucky to have rung up four goals in Beirut. The first game of the group stage was a 6-0 loss to South Korea- yet somehow, Bucker got this team to tick they beat Kuwait, UAE, and South Korea to collect 10 points and advance to the Final Round of qualifying where they took points off of Iran, South Korea, and Uzbekistan.
Bücker’s time with Lebanon was only tainted by a match fixing scandal that saw his players deliberately concede to Qatar in a 1-0 loss.
If Bücker were to take over he would have arguably more talent to work with- Palestine beat Lebanon in 2012 to register their first WAFF Championship win.
There’s a lot to like about Bucker’s approach- he looks to diaspora communities for talent but will also make due with what he has. This guy did win games with Ziad Samad as his keeper after all.