|Palestine’s Olympic Side vs. Algeria U20|
What: 2018 AFC U23 Championship qualifier
When: 19:30 Jerusalem Time
Where: Dura International Stadium, Palestine
TV/Stream: Palestine Sport / Pal24Sport (FB Live)
Palestine is set to kickoff its quest to qualify for the Asian U23 Championship finals tomorrow when they play host to Tajikistan. The young Fida’i‘s match will proceed the first match of Group E between group favorites Jordan and expected whipping boys Bangladesh.
The Olympic side will aim to register a victory in their first game which could set up a first ever qualification for an Asian or global youth tournament.
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.
Ayman Sandouqa’s men prepared for this tournament with an internal training camp to whittle down a preliminary list of 40 players to 23. The team then travelled to Algeria and conducted three friendly games against Algeria’s U20 team and a pair of games against Algerian Ligue 1 side NA Hussien Dey. Palestine emerged victorious against Algeria and followed that up with a 3-1 and 1-0 loss to NA Hussein Dey.
While in Algeria, the national team was bolstered by the arrival of four players who ply their trade abroad. Due to the realities of Israeli occupation, it has emerged that 19 year old Lebanon-based defender Alaa Habous will not be allowed to enter the West Bank.
Habous’s absence will leave a huge gap in the backline. It remains to be seen if Wadi Degla’s right back Omar Jihad will be allowed to join the rest of the squad in Dura- but his name has been included in the final list of players. German-based duo Alex Shehada and Abdallah Abu Rashed have not been included in the final squad.
For their part, Tajikistan prepared for this encounter with a 2-1 loss to the UAE in Dubai. For all their deficiencies, Tajikistan put UAE under a great deal of pressure in the opening stanza of the game- with their pressing and short passing game unsettling the Emirati defence.