Palestine’s Olympic Team fall to Algeria at ISG

Fraternal Spirit was high between both sides

Palestine Starting XI: Ghanem Mahajneh (C), Ahmed Al-Sayed, Mohammed Saleh, Yazan Owaiwi (Dawoud Sarhan), Hazem Abuhammad (Yousef Al-Ashhab); Mohammed Yameen, Mohammed Darwish; Mahmoud Abu Warda, Islam Batran, Oday Dabagh; Nameer Agha (Mohammed Maraaba)

Algeria Starting XI: Rahmani; Bouzidi, Douari, Merouani, Khacef; Hamra (Belarbi), Gaggaa, Saadi; Naidji (Semmane), Bachou (El Mellali), 21-Meziani (Azouz); Ameur Chafik 

Goals: Farid Al-Melali (PK) 63′

A valiant Palestine effort went unrewarded for the second time this week as Al-Fida’i fell 1-0 to their Algerian counterparts. Palestine effectively neutralized Algeria and managed to carve out several chances throughout the game but lacked the finishing touch to finish attacking moves.

Olympic team coach, Ayman Sandouqa, made two changes to the side that drew with Oman on Monday. Hazem Abuhammad replaced Yousef Al-Ashhab at left back while Nameer Agha was given a run out as the sole forward in the side.

The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides trying to force the issue. Oday Dabagh’s incisive runs were often punctuated by repeated fouling from the Algerian players. Palestine, however, failed to take advantage of any of their set piece opportunities.

Palestine kept the pressure up in the second half and were looking remarkably solid with overage player Mohammed Darwish bossing things in the middle of the pitch.

Despite exerting control over the match, Palestine were done in by an unfortunate individual error. Ahmad Al-Sayed lost his footing tracking looping ball on the right flank. Upon impact with the ground, he inadvertently brought down Ismail Saadi in the box.

The Ukrainian referee pointed to the spot without hesitation and substitute Farid Al-Melali slotted past Mahajneh who had guessed correctly but could not stretch to stop the spot kick.

Former starters, Mohammed Maraaba and Yousef Al-Ashhab were given a chance in the game as substitutes. The former should have finished a gilt edged chance set up by Dabagh but fired straight at goalkeeper Rahmani Chamseddine

Algeria were later reduced to 10 men when Ahmed Gagaa picked up a second yellow. Despite numerical advantage Palestine could not find a goal- with two opportunities cleared off the line.

Palestine will next face Turkey on Monday. The Europeans blew a 2-0 lead against Oman earlier today to succumb to their second loss of the tournament. The 3-2 reverse ended their hopes of progression to the semifinals.

For Palestine’s part their road to the semifinals has become more complicated. A draw today would have left Palestine needing just a win vs. Turkey to progress. Now they are left needing a win, an Algeria win, and a 4-5 goal swing in their favor between the two games.

As a result of Palestine’s slim chances, expect to see a lot of new faces. With players over the age limit of next year’s AFC U23 Championship expected to make way. 

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