|Jonathan and Darwish celebrate the opener|
Palestine Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Rami Hamadi; Musab Al-Battat, Haitham Dheeb, Abdelatif Bahdari, Abdallah Jaber; Mohammed Darwish, Shadi Shaban (Mohammed Yameen) Tamer Seyam, Sameh Maraaba, Jonathan Cantillana (Alexis Norambuena), Yashir Pinto Islame (Ahmed Maher Wridat)
60′ Mohammed Yameen for Shadi Shaban
68′ Alexis Norambuena for for Jonathan Cantillana
80′ Ahmed Maher for Yashir Pinto Islame
Palestine: Jonathan Cantillana 15′, Yashir Pinto Islame 21′
Oman: Ahmed Mubarak 45′
Highlights and more after the jump….
Recap: After a nervy first five minutes Palestine settled and promptly laid siege to Oman’s half. A succession of three corners produced some half chances for Palestine. Haitham Dheeb was the author of the first sending his header wide. A badly cleared ball off a corner kick fell to Shadi Shaban who pulled his shot wide.
The breakthrough would come soon enough. Shadi Shaban’s burst down the left hand side wasn’t dealt with and the former Palestino man sent a beautiful ball to Jonathan Cantillana- his Ahli Al-Khaleel teammate- to head home the opener. The crowd had barely sat down when Yashir Pinto Islame scored his fourth goal in seven games with the national team.
Oman were stunned walking punch drunk around the artificial pitch of the Faisal Al-Husseini stadium.
A goal before the half was exactly what the doctor ordered for the boys from the Sultanate. Oman had barely troubled Rami Hamadi when Abdelsalam Amer pinged a beautiful free kick off the crossbar and past the Thaqafi keeper.
The keeper had started his national team career with a clean sheet of 404 minutes before Oman breached his goal.
Oman captain Ali Al-Habsi rounded up his teammates moments later at halftime for a team talk- with the aim of settling nerves that were obviously frayed.
In the second half, Oman showed more intent. Abdel Nasser Barakat went to his bench to inject more energy in the middle of the pitch as Mohammed Yameen replaced Shadi Shaban.
Barakat would further strengthen the defensive nous by deploying Alexis Noarmbuena as a winger in place of Jonathan Cantillana.
Oman’s best chance to equalize would come in the 80th minute but the ensuing shot trickled harmlessly wide from a tight angle.
Moments later Barakat would make his final substitution brining on Ahmed Maher Wridat in place of Yashir Pinto Islame.
The second half was not as pretty as the first but it was a professional display from a team that has prioritized defence above all else.
When the final whistle blew in Al-Ram at just past 12:45 local time the crowd was in raptures. Fans ran onto the pitch, substitutes cleared the bench, and there was a general feeling that Palestine’s place at UAE 2019 was all but secured.
What I liked: What didn’t I like? Shadi Shaban and Mohammed Darwish bossed the midfield in the first half stifling Omani supply lines. Yashir Pinto was a maestro up front with his intelligent runs and hold up play. The fullbacks shut down their opposing numbers. It was a magnificent display tarnished only by a great Omani free kick at the end of the first half.
What I didn’t like: The pitch. It’s horrible. It should have been replaced and was the primary cause of Abdallah Jaber’s an injury late into the second half. The FA needs to do a better job getting these players what they deserve.
Asian Cup Qualifying Roundup:
Maldives notched their first win of the campaign in the other game in Group D. A penalty and a late goal condemning Bhutan to defeat on their home ground.
Lebanon recovered from a goal down to snatch a dramatic victory in Kuala Lumpur. Lebanon’s 100% record has them five points above Korea DPR and Hong Kong who drew earlier today, albeit with a game in hand.
India won 1-0 vs. Kyrgyzstan meaning their improbable rise in the FIFA Rankings will continue.
Palestine, Lebanon, and India joined Philippines (3-4 winners over Tajikistan) as the only teams with a 100% record through two match days.
There were also wins for Bahrain (2-1 away to Turkmenistan), Myanmar (4-0 away to Macao), and Cambodia (1-0 vs. Afghanistan).
Meanwhile Nepal, Hong Kong, and Vietnam earned draws against more illustrious opponents- Yemen, Korea DPR, and Jordan, respectively.
What’s Next: Palestine will travel to face Bhutan on September 5th. The match will be the first ever encounter between the two sides.