Last Chance Saloon
Palestine, by all measures, could have been in a better position going into the final round of matches tomorrow. It feels strange to say that because on paper one point with a chance of progression would have been a dream scenario before the tournament kicked off.
When the games were played things unfolded differently. Palestine were the better team in the second half of their match against Japan. A golden chance five minutes from time presented Mahmoud Yousef with an opportunity to nick a point but his shot flew wide of the near post.
In the second game, against Korea DPR, Palestine had genuine scoring chances through Shihab Qinbar and Mahmoud Yousef before Oday Dabagh opened the scoring.
After conceding an equalizer there were more chances that fell Palestine’s way but did not end up in the back of the net.
The game against Thailand presents Palestine with yet another chance to convert their chances. They will need to seize it if they are to have a shot a progressing to the quarterfinals.
Will Thailand put up a fight?
Thailand were the first team to be dumped out of the AFC U23 Championship after a last gasp winner saw them drop all three points to Japan. In the first round, they were undone by an early goal. The War Elephants defended stoutly against the tournament’s holders but did little else. They mustered two shots that failed to find the target, the result hopeful efforts from outside the box.
Japan’s two midfielders- Inoue and Kamiya- completed more than 100 passes each for the entirety of the game.
Thailand put 235 passes together as a team over the span of 90 minutes.
There are questions abound as to the mental state of the team but there have been instances when teams play considerably better once the pressure of a tournament has been removed.
Ayman Sandouqa’s charges should be advised not to take Thailand too lightly.
Who will be odd man out in attack?
After a largely anonymous performance against Japan, the young Fida’i captain- Mahmoud Abu Warda was left on the bench against Korea DPR. His cameo appearance in the second half gave Palestine a much needed lift and his service resulted in three fantastic goal scoring chances.
Mahmoud Yousef has been wasteful and Shihab Qinbar has gone missing for long stretches of the game- could one of these two players make way for Abu Warda? Or will Sandouqa opt to keep Abu Warda as a trump card?
Palestine need to win in order to qualify but that will not be enough if the Koreans manage at least a point against the Blue Samurai. Japan have qualified for the next round but need a point to guarantee first place in the group.
In the event Palestine wins and DPR Korea loses both teams would be even on four points. The first tiebreaker is goal difference, followed by goals scored, followed by disciplinary points.
As it stands now Korea DPR has an edge in goal differential- but that would be wiped out should both teams finish on four points.
If Korea DPR and Palestine’s results in the three games mirror each other then disciplinary points will come into play. The Koreans have the edge in that department going into this game with one fewer yellow card.
Palestine will thus be better served to win by a 2-1 scoreline as opposed to a 1-0 scoreline- giving them the goals scored tie breaker.