Preview: Palestine U23 vs. Jordan U23 (2018 AFC U23 Championship Qualifier)

Oday Dabagh (R) will look to lead Palestine past rivals Jordan

What: 2018 AFC U23 Championship qualifier 
When: 19:30 Jerusalem Time. Friday, July 21st
Where: Dura International Stadium, Palestine 
TV/Stream: Palestine Sport  / Pal24Sport (FB Live)

Palestine will continue their quest at a spot at the U23 Championship finals tomorrow when they face rivals Jordan. The young Fida’i‘s will look to rebound from a disappointing 2-2 draw vs. Tajikistan while Jordan is seeking to consolidate first place in the group after hammering Bangladesh 7-0 in the Group E opener.

The Olympic side has had considerable more success against Al-Nashama than their senior compatriots. Palestine should take heart from the fact that the previous iterations of the team beat Jordan 1-0 on three occasions over the course of 2014 and 2015.

Al-Fida’i were victorious in the 2014 Nakba Cup invitational tournament over their cross river rivals in the opening game and the final.

Fifteen months later, Islam Batran put on a show to rescue what was an otherwise forgettable 2015 WAFF Youth Championship.

Qualifying Scenarios

Current Group E Standings

Ten group winners alongside the five best runner ups will qualify for the tournament. That field could expand to six best runners ups should China- next year’s hosts- finish amongst the top 15 teams.

Sri Lanka’s late withdrawal left Group A with only three teams. Rather than award a string of 3-0 wins to Iran, Oman, and Kyrgyzstan- the AFC has elected to drop the results against the fourth place team in each group.

For Group E participants- that most likely means results against Bangladesh won’t count in the ranking of best second place teams. Neither Palestine nor Jordan can afford to lose this match- a draw would keep both teams in the running for qualification as a group winner- but effectively take them out of the running for qualification as a second place team.

Should the game end in a draw, Palestine would still have a slim chance at finishing as group winners. They would have to beat Bangladesh (by eight goals) and then hope Jordan and Tajikistan battle to a draw. That would leave the three teams even on points and goal difference in the games played amongst them (2 Points, 0 GD). The next tie breaker would be goals scored in the matches involving the three teams- should that fail to break the tie then- the goals against Bangladesh would determine the group winner.

In the unlikely scenario that that would fail to produce a clear cut group winner- the next tie breakers are disciplinary points (amount of yellow and red cards) and the infamous drawing of lots/coin flip.

Lineup Changes?

Reinforcements: Omar Jehad Al-Sharif is on his way to Hebron
Palestine received a big boost with the news that Omar Jehad was allowed into Palestine by Israel’s security apparatus. That should go some way to shoring up the back line, where he will spell Namir Agha- but the big question mark is who starts in midfield. Thaqafi Tulkarem’s Abdelkarim Abu Shanab and Shabab Al-Khaleel’s Mohanad Fannoun started the first game behind Omar Sandouqa. 
Sandouqa was hauled off at halftime but his replacement, Bahaa Wridat, was perhaps the worst player on the pitch and completely failed in his assignment to retain possession and play smart passes. 
Might Ayman Sandouqa give a vote of confidence to one of the younger players in the side? 19 year-old Abdullah Abou Rashed made a cameo with six minutes remaining and this writer, for one, would like to see a player with access to some of the best training methods in the world be given a chance to settle affairs in the middle of the pitch. 

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