Rapid Reaction: Tajikistan 3:3 Palestine (International Friendly)

Jonathan Cantillana equalizes for Palestine from the spot

Palestine Starting XI (4-4-2): Toufic Ali; Mohammed Saleh, Tamer Salah (C), Alaa Abu Saleh, Abdullah Jaber; Tamer Seyam, Mohammed Darweesh, Alexis Norambuena, Jonathan Cantillana; Yashir Pinto Islame, Ahmad Abu Nahyeh. 

Substitutions: Pinto Islame <-> Sameh Mar’aba 55′ // Abu Nahya 79′ <-> Islam Batran // Cantillana <-> Fadi Salbees 87′ // Saleh <-> Eghbarieh 90′

Cautions: Yashir Pinto Islame, Sameh Mar’aba, Jonathan Cantillana, Mohammed Darweesh

Goals:  Jonathan Cantillana (p.) 52′ Tamer Seyam 57′ Ahmad Abu Nahya 68′

Highlights and more after the jump…

Recap: Without a manager and with several players absent it was apparent that Palestine would face an uphill task in securing a win against a much improved Tajik side. Nourredine Ould chose to expirement handing Mohammed Saleh his debut at right back and shifting Alexis Norambuena to midfield. Alaa Abu Saleh got his first start with the national team as Tamer Salah- the gentle giant- served as stand-in captain in the absence of Abdelatif Bahdari and Haitham Dheeb.

The first half’s tepid pace favored the hosts who were eager to put on a display in front of their fans. They were gifted an opportunity to do just that when Tamer Seyam clumisly clattered into a Tajik player in the box. Toufic Ali had no chance to stop the Central Asians from going 1-0 up through their captain Nuridin Davronov.

Palestine looked lost for most of the first half with Alexis Norambuena in an unfamiliar position whilst debutant Mohammed Saleh struggled to put out fires on the right flank.

Palestine started to slowly play it’s way into the game during the last stanza of the first half; Abu Nahya’s constant pressing resulting in turnovers in key positions while Pinto Islame power provided a much needed outlet for a harangued midfield.

For the second time in as many months Palestine produced an instantaneous response after halftime with Yashir Islame Pinto making a clever run. Abdullah Jaber’s ball over the top was inch perfect and an on-rushing Mahmkamov clattered into the Melaka Utd striker earning himself a yellow and conceding a penalty in the process. Jonathan Cantillana took the penalty kick and made no mistake from the spot.

Minutes later a superbly curled free kick by Tamer Seyam gave Palestine the lead but that wouldn’t last long as Dinamo Brest striker Jahongir Ergashev responded with a free kick of his own after substitue Sameh Mar’aba committed the error of fouling in dangerous territory.

10 minutes later Ahmad Abu Nahya capped off a fantastic performance on the night by getting a much deserved half volleyed goal. His fifth strike in six caps puts him elite territory- with only Fahed Attal getting to five goals in a shorter space of time.

The Shabab Al-Khaleel striker set up Tamer Seyam before being subbed off for debutant Islam Batran but Akhmadov came up big to deny the winger his second goal of the game.

The inclusions of speedy substitutes in the form of Islam Batran and Fadi Salbees meant Palestine presented a constant threat on the counter.  The Wadi Degla forward was denied an obvious penalty in injury time (of which there were an inexplicable seven minutes).

Tajikistan’s constant exploitation of the right flank paid dividends in an elongated period of injury time with Moamin Eghbarieh allowing his man to ghost past him and cut back a ball for Lokomotiv Plovdiv’s Umarbaev to score an equalizer that sent the Dushanbe faithful into a frenzy.

A last gasp attack should have seen Palestine grab a winner through the likes of Fadi Salbees but his shot ballooned over the bar.

An enthralling 3-3 draw means both teams will be hoping other results fall their way before the Asian Cup draw is conducted in November.

What I liked: Great spirit in the second half. For whatever reason, that was missing in the first fixture last month.

What I didn’t like: Unnecessary experimentation. There’s absolutely no need to play Alexis in any other position other than right back. To play him midfield and shunt a young player like Mohammed Saleh (who might be our 6th choice at the position) at right back is asking for trouble. I admire the courage to give a kid a chance but late in the game he should have been replaced with a midfielder and Alexis should have closed out the game in his natural position. With better in-game decisions, Palestine could have had a win tonight.

Man of the Match: Ahmad Abu Nahya; great performance today deserved his goal and you have to admire his work rate, nobody harasses defenders quite like he does.

Islam Batran: Came on for Abu Nahya and was very crisp in possession and passing. His time at Wadi Degla has served him well and he should be given more playing time with the national team.

Referee: Can somebody explain why on earth you would play SEVEN minutes of injury time in a friendly? There was no significant injury or delay and what’s worse it seems the ref lost control of the game. Tajik players were lunging in left and right and then flopping in the hopes of winning a penalty. When Palestine had a legitimate penalty shout late in the second half he incorrectly waived it away.

What’s Next: Reports out of Beirut have Palestine and Lebanon meeting in a friendly on the 10th of November. 

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