Palestinians Abroad: Mohamed Darwish being courted by Jordan; could switch national teams

The fallout of Palestine’s historic 5-0 World Cup qualifying loss against Saudi Arabia continues to widen.

Football Palestine has learned that KF Trepca 89’s Mohamad Darwish was part of the so-called “reserve list” for the match with Saudi Arabia. The player was furnished with a release letter to present to his club but as with Nazmi Albadawi, Ahmed Awad, and Amr Kaddoura he was not given a plane ticket and was later stonewalled after trying to contact the Football Association for clarification.

Darwish whose allegiance was heavily courted by the Jordanian Football Association before choosing to represent Palestine in 2017 could still represent Al-Nashama. The midfielder has not been cap-tied by the senior team and his four matches all came in friendlies last year when he was included in the 2020 Bangabandhu Gold Cup squad.

As Darwish is over 21 (he turned 24 in February), an appearance in World Cup or Asian Cup qualifying would have ruled out any nationality switch. This past September, FIFA changed the rules surrounding eligibility allowing players who have played less than three competitive games (not at a continental or World Cup Finals) to switch nationality- provided that they received these caps before their 21st birthday. This rule allowed Sevilla’s Munir El-Haddadi to represent Morocco after having featured in a World Cup qualifier for Spain.

This is not the first time Jordan has tried to poach players from Palestine’s national team. Shareef Adnan, a fullback who played for Shabab Al-Khaleel and represented the national team twice, filed a nationality switch to play for Jordan two years after his debut with Palestine in 2009.

Omar Jarun whose existence was forgotten by the incoming Rajoub’s regime was also courted and even trained with the Jordanian National Team. The move was scuppered as his only game came in a World Cup qualifying loss to Singapore in 2007 and the PFA’s realization that Jarun was actually a very good player.

Mohamed Darwish has four caps and one assist with the national team and was a key member of the Olympic Team that competed at the 2018 AFC U23 Championship, scoring twice and assisting twice in four appearances. A Schalke youth academy product, Darwish made his name with Hannover 96’s youth team winning the DFB Junior Cup in 2015/16 before moving on to Arminia and HSC Hannover. Last summer, he made the choice to leave Germany’s fourth tier for Kosovo’s first tier. According to Transfermarkt, Darwish has four goals and five assists in 19 appearances this season.