Rapid Reaction: Bahrain 0:0 Palestine (Friendly)

Palestine Starting XI: Rami Hamadi, Mus’ab Al-Battat, Mohammed Saleh, Abdelatif Bahdari, Abdallah Jaber; Mohammed Darweesh, Mohammed Yameen, Shadi Shaban (Mahmoud Eid); Sameh Maraaba (Ahmed Maher Wridat) Mohammed Balah (Ahmed Awad 60′), Tamer Seyam. 

Goals: None

Cards: Mohammed Balah, Shadi Shaban, Mohammed Yameen, Mohammed Darweesh

Recap: In his first official game in charge of the national team, Julio Cesar Baldiveiso, opted to exercise a good amount of caution. Palestine started without a recognized attack minded midfielder wit the triumvirate of Yameen, Darweesh, and Shaban anchoring the midfield.

The opening 20 minutes saw few chances for either side with Palestine heavily dependent on their fullbacks to unlock the Bahraini defence.

The pace of the game did not pick up until the end of the first half. Bahrain tested Rami Hamadi from point blank range but could not find a way past the Palestinian netminder.

Minutes later Palestine sprang to life through Abdallah Jaber, with the left back weaving his way into the box before having a penalty claim waived away.

In the 40th minute, Mus’ab Al-Battat set up Yameen for a shot but the midfielder fluffed his lines and hesitated in pulling the trigger.

The hosts ended the first half by winning a succession of corner kicks but had no answer for a well organized Palestinian side.

Baldivieso chose to make no changes at half time and waited until the 60th minute to make a change, taking off Balah and bringing on Ahmed Awad in an attempt to spark the attack to life.

He waited 15 minutes to bring on Mahmoud Eid an only used his final substitution with mere seconds left in regualtion. During that phase of the game; things began to fall apart and Palestine may well have conceded against a more competent opponent.

Palestine’s best chance of the day came with 10 minutes to go courtesy of a Tamer Seyam free kick, it was the only shot that could have given Palestine the win in a game that failed to showcase any real attacking intent.

What I liked: There are some positives in this performance. Defensively, Palestine are sound and they are adept at denying opportunities to their opponents. When a shot does creep through Rami Hamadi is a more than capable goalkeeper and registered his fifth clean sheet in only 7th cap.

What I didn’t like: Palestine changed the manager but there seems to be an insistence to field some of the same old faces. What is there to learn from fielding Sameh Maraaba and Tamer Seyam for the nth time? Especially when new faces are available? It’s not everyday you can get Eid and Awad in the squad. Also what does Islam Batran have to do to get some love? All these players could have been given at least 45 minutes of play. To make matters worse despite Bahrain making more substitutions- they ended the game looking the more likely of the two sides to score.

Asian Cup Draw: Palestine caught a break with China losing 6-0 to Wales earlier today. The result means that despite the draw they are still in with a chance at Pot 1 for the upcoming Asian Cup draw. They will need to win and then hope Saudi Arabia gains less than “four points” in their friendlies vs. Ukraine and Belgium.

What’s Next: Palestine faces Oman in their final Asian Cup qualifier on Tuesday at 4 PM GMT. 

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