|Haitham Dheeb contests Ahmed Khalil for the ball|
Palestine came out with more energy in the second half and Ashraf Nu’man was thrown on to try and rescue the encounter. He replaced Jonathan who had been involved in one of Palestine’s best chances on the night- with his shot going wide.
It seemed that there might be an equalizer in the mix and then a final push for a winner. Until… Ben Williams happened.
A hand ball on Abdallah Jaber was by all measures a very harsh call. Harsher even was the fact that the linesman- who was closest to the action- didn’t flag for it. An ensuing penalty put the tie to rest and another controversial call- Mohammed Darwish went to ground but didn’t touch Omar Abdulrahman. His plea fell on deaf ears as he was shown his second yellow.
Palestine continued to show great resiliency down a man and Jaka Ihbeisheh was especially lively in his 30 minute cameo. His activity down the left flank became the main threat for PAlestine and he combined with Ashraf Nu’man with great effect.
There would be further controversy in the 66th minute when a ball was handled inadvertently by an Emirati in their own box. Abdelatif Bahdari’s appeals to Ben Williams earned him a yellow card but this moment was a microcosm of Ben Williams’s refereeing he is consistently inconsistent.
In the end, Palestine needed a slice of luck to pull off the upset today. They can be proud of their performance in qualifying and in particular this game- which had it’s fair share of positives despite the less than stellar result.
What I liked: Great fan support. Palestinians in the UAE answered the call and the were absolutely fantastic today. We are slowly gaining a reputation as a team with fans everywhere and that is really great to see. This wasn’t the case when we started this site eight years ago.
What I didn’t like: Security took away Algerian flags which I find perplexing and disgusting. Also the internet connection in the Media Tribune was really bad. I had planned to do more in terms of coverage and I couldn’t even get tweets out. Finally, Ben Williams cannot be one of Asia’s best…. Refereeing in Asia isn’t great but this guy is horrible.
FACTS: The UAE had a moment of brilliance that was the difference in this game (that and Ben Williams). If you disagree with that analysis look at the stats.