Rapid Reaction Singapore 2:1 Palestine (2022 World Cup Qualifier)

Palestine Starting XI: Rami Hamadi, Musab Al-Battat, Yaser Hamed Mayor, Abdelatif Bahdari, Abdallah Jaber; Mohammed Darweesh, Mohammed Rashid (Mohammed Yameen); Oday Dabbagh, Nazmi Albadawi (Mahmoud Eid), Tamer Seyam; Mahmoud Wadi (Islam Batran)

Singapore Starting XI:  Mahbud Izwan; Shakir Hamzah, Irfan Fandi, Safuwan bin Baharudin,  Amirul bin Azmi; Yasir Hanapi; Mohammed bin Ahmad (Zulqaren Suzliman), Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman; Faris bin Ramli (Hafiz Nor), Ikhsan Fandi (Fareez Farhan).

Cautions: Mohammed Draweesh 47′ Mohammed Yameen 80′ Bahdari 82′

Goals: Singapore- Hamzah 3′ Safuwan 39′  // Palestine- Hamed Mayor 13′ 

Recap: Palestine’s first away game of the qualifying campaign was never going to be easy and despite what many had said about Singapore- there was plenty of evidence in their opener against Yemen that this team could play.

Playing away from home is about exerting control over proceedings, often focusing on neutralizing an emotionally charge opponent before inflicting damage. Palestine failed this test a mere four minutes into the game. Singapore pressed looking to force a mistake and they did as Abdelatif Bahdari got his lines crossed with fellow centreback Yaser Hamed Mayor. The errant pass was picked off and slipped to Muhammad Shakir bin Hamzah- the right back’s clean finish sent the Jalan Besar into euphoria.

To their credit Palestine responded well as they found a way to equalize when Singapore repeatedly failed to clear a corner kick. Yaser Hamed Mayor eventually found the end of it and doubled his international tally 13 minutes into proceedings.

Palestine had their moments in the first half but could not find a rhythm and things took a turn for the worse when Singapore reestablished their lead 39 minutes in.

The hulking centreback Muhammad Safuwan blasted a header into the bottom corner to give the hosts an unexpected lead at the break.

Palestine did not seem to have a plan to come back from the deficit and frustration was visible throughout the second half as bodies were flung forward in search of a hopeful long ball.

The first sub of the night saw Yameen spell Rashid which gave Palestine some added movement in the middle of the pitch but hardly created danger. Mahmoud Wadi who seems destined to lumber on his lonesome was replaced on the hour mark.

It took 80 minutes for Mahmoud Eid to come on and when he did he replaced Palestine’s best player over the past two games- Nazmi Albadawi.

The game got out of hand when Eid came off the pitch with a massive kerfuffle erupting near the touchline.

By then Palestine had already converted Abdelatif Bahdari into a forward and where in completely desperate. The midfield was gone replaced by two lines- one that attacked and the other that defended.

It was a microcosm of the shortcomings of the national team. A lack of a tactical plan- especially when a reactive defensive one just would not do.

What I liked: Thursday. Take me back to Thursday.

What I didn’t like: The preparation of this game was all over the place. From the Turkish restaurant that the staff picked to dine at (who has Middle Eastern food in Singapore?!?) that left many of the players feeling sick to the lack of lineup management. It pays to have weapons on your bench- too many were simply not there. Ahmed Awad and Yashir Islame could have helped. Rotating the starters from Thursday would have helped. An attacking philosophy would have helped. The coaching staff conspired to take a massive result and completely throw it away. If your tactical plan is to play a 35 year old centre back as a centre forward then you simply do not deserve to get anything out of the game.

Man of the Match: Tatsuma Yoshida. Let this be a lesson to the Palestinian Football Association. A manager and a vision can deliver results. Singapore were deserved winners tonight they had a plan and executed. Palestine had very few ideas in attack and no Plan B. The hope has to be that the team can recover. A win at home against Saudi Arabia is a must.

Group D Roundup: Palestine got a helping hand from Yemen who held Saudi Arabia to a 2-2 draw. The result means Palestine are in second place one point ahead of Yemen and one point behind Singapore. Uzbekistan are bottom on zero points and Saudi Arabia are in the penultimate position on one point, both with a game in hand.

The Yemenis had a 1-0 and 2-1 lead in the first half. It is abundantly clear that this group will not be easy for any of the teams involved- the Group of Death without a doubt.

What’s Next: Palestine face Saudi Arabia at home on Match Day 4- Tuesday, October 15th. The national team has a bye on Match Day 3 which will see Singapore play host to Saudi Arabia andYemen face off against Uzbekistan in Tashkent. 

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