Preview: Timor Leste v. Palestine (2018 World Cup Qualifier)

Dili International Stadium: Shrouded in mystery…

Game Information

What: 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying
When: October 8th, 2015
Where: Dili National Stadium, Dili. Timor Leste
Kickoff: 0700 GMT
Streams/TV: game available on BeIn Sport 1, Palestine Sport, Abu Dhabi Sport 1, Al-Kass

Previous Encounters: 

Suspensions: Palestine will be without a couple of key players for a tricky away encounter against an unknown foe. Midfield maestro Mohammed Darwish– who has played every minute of the qualifying campaign misses out due to yellow card accumulation. Abdel-Nasser Barakat returns from his one man touchline ban to lead the team out once again. Centreback Abdelatif Bahdari is back after serving a three month ban for abandoning the team’s training camp in June.

Injuries: Midfielder Pablo Tamburrini who has started every game of the Barakat era has not made the trip. Right back Alexis Norambuena also sidelined from action while Javier Cohene is still recovering from an injury picked up in the lead up to the UAE game.

Lineup Shuffle

The big question facing Palestine is how they will cope without their usual pair in the middle of the pitch. Mohammed Darwish was arguably Palestine’s best player against the UAE and his high energy performances have helped settle a still developing side. To compound the problem, Tamburrini’s efficient passing will also be absent. Their most likely replacements are pretty experienced in their own right- Khader Yousef- the most capped player should be ready for the task tomorrow. Mahmoud Sheikhqasem should get his first meaningful start for the national team since playing in Palestine’s maiden WAFF Championship victory against Lebanon three years ago.

Racking up the miles

In order to get to Dili the national team had to fly for over 25 hours from their temporary base in Dubai. It was an even more arduous journey for the likes of Imad Zatara and Mahmoud Eid who flew from Stockholm to Bangkok to Bali- where they spent the night- before finally arriving in the Timorese capital.

The Chilean based duo of Jonathan Cantillana and Matías Jadue only arrived today and will most likely start on the bench tomorrow.

Which Timor Leste will show up? 

Timorese gun for hire: Patrick Fabiano 

To start off qualifying, Timor Leste showed an ability to punch above their weight: snatching a point from Malaysia and nearly doing the same against the UAE. Last month the wheels seemed to fall off, perhaps exacerbated by the fact their m manager departed to pursue an opportunity in the Emirates in June.

Against Saudi Arabia, the Timorese were walloped 7-0. It was 3-0 inside 20 minutes and there didn’t seem to be any game plan other than bunkering in their own half of the pitch.

Will the team present a more difficult challenge in Dili? It’s hard to tell- new players are constantly being brought in by the FA with only the most tenuous connections to the poorest country in Asia. There are Spaniards, Brazilians, and Germans that could feature in tomorrow’s squad with many of them having spent only a few more days in Timor Leste than their Palestinian opponents.

That said, playing in from of their fans (although some plan to protest) for the first time since the playoff game vs. Mongolia should give this team a boost and I would be shocked if Palestine negotiated a win here without a serious amount of huffing and puffing.

Palestine Squad 

GOALKEEPERS: Toufic Ali (Shabab Dora), Ghanem Mahajna (Shabab Al-Khaleel), Ahmed Shebil (Al-Am’ary)

DEFENDERS: Abdelatif Bahdari (Shabab Al-Khaleel), Mahmoud Dayfallah, Abdallah Jaber (both Ahli Al-Khaleel), Tamer Salah (Hilal Al-Quds), Fadi Salbees, Abdullah Adrees (all Hilal Al-Quds), Mohammed Abu Khamis (Taraji Wadi Al-Nees), Mus’ab Battat (Shabab Al-Dhahrieh)

MIDFIELDERS: Tamer Seyam (Shabab Al-Khaleel), Jaka Ihbeisheh (Rudar/SLO), Imad Zatara (AFC United/SWE), Jonathan Cantillana (Palestino/CHI), Khader Yousef (Taraji Wadi Al-Nes), Mahmoud Sheikhqasem (Al-Am’ary), Mohammed Yameen (Thaqafi Tulkarem), Ahmed Maher (Ahli Al-Khalil)

FORWARDS: Matías Jadue (Deportes Santa Cruz/CHI),  Mahmoud Eid (Nyköpings/SWE), Sameh Mar’aba (Khader), Ahmed Abu Nahyeh (Shabab Al-Khaleel)

Predicted Starting XI

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