Preview: Palestine v. Malaysia (2018 World Cup Qualifier)

Palestine training for the final time before facing Malaysia 

Game Information

What: 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying
When: November 12th, 2015
Where: Amman International Stadium, Amman, Jordan
Kickoff: 1400 GMT
Streams/TV: // BeIn Sports HD 1 (MENA)

Previous Encounters: 
June 2015 (2018 World Cup Qualifying): Malaysia 0:6 Palestine
March 2013 (Friendly): Palestine 2-0 Malaysia
March 2001 (2002 World Cup Qualifying): Palestine 1:0 Malaysia
March 2001 (2002 World Cup Qualifying): Palestine 3:4 Malaysia

Suspensions: No bookings were dished out by Jordanian referee Adham Makhadmeh in Palestine’s last encounter against Saudi Arabia. Matías Jadue should return to the starting lineup after serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Malaysia Rejuvenated: After suffering embarrassing losses at the hands of Palestine and the UAE (combined score 16-0) the Malaysian FA and Dollah Salleh parted ways. The appointment of Ong Kim Swee had an instant impact. A mere five days after a 10-0 implosion the Harimau Malaya gave the Saudis quite a scare going ahead in the Bukit Jalil with a mere 20 minutes to play. In the end, Malaysia didn’t have the experience to see the game out- promptly giving up two goals in the next three minutes. Nevertheless, there is reignited vigor in this team and after a 1-0 win over Timor-Leste their sights are set on advancing automatically to the Asian Cup qualifying stage. Expect to see a more confident side given the recent success of Malaysian club JDT in the AFC Cup. A win on Thursday would put them one point ahead of Palestine and effectively seal second place for the Emiratis.

Reinforcements: Palestine’s ranks will be boosted by the presence of Jaka Ihbeisheh and Matías Jadue.

Midweek Shuffle? 

Playing two games in the space of 72 hours is tough on any player and this matchup could really be indicative of Palestine’s depth. In Abdel Nasser Barakat’s first six games in charge some players have emerged as indispensable. Chief amongst them are the midfield pairing of Tamburrini and Darwish and after injuries and suspensions a first choice back four is thoroughly established.

That said, after an arduous game against Saudi Arabia I wouldn’t be surprised to see Khader Yousef handed a start in midfield. The status of Haitham Dheeb- who left 72 minutes into the match vs. Saudi Arabia is uncertain so even the trusted vanguards could make way in this one.

Further up the pitch, Abdel Nasser Barakat will have to decide whether or not to use Abdelhamid Abuhabib- a player not known for his fitness- as a super sub in a scenario where Palestine needs to further open up the Malaysian defence.

Tamer Seyam, Imad Zatara, Ahmed Abu Nahiyeh and the aforementioned Jaka Ihbeisheh and Matías Jadue are the other candidates in line to see the pitch.

Make or Break 

Palestine simply have to win this game. In fact, every game from here on out is a must win and this will ring more true should the appeal of the Timor Leste result be rejected. Al-Fida’i will need to overcome all the obstacles they overcame against Saudi Arabia in addition to fatigue.

They will also need to be more proactive; a repeat of the bland first half in Dili could prove to be disastrous. For the team to be truly dangerous they’ll need to unleash their talented fullbacks and both Abdallah Jaber and Alexis Norambuena are excellent at bombing forward. In attack, it will be interesting to see Ashraf Nu’man deployed on the wing with Jadue (and/or Abu Nahyeh creating) space for his runs.

Whatever combinations Abdel Nasser Barakat goes for there needs to be an awareness of the importance of this game. Win on Thursday and the dream is a live for another four months.

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