It took less than four minutes. Oday Dabbagh, for the third straight game, was summoned from the bench as Arouca looked to rescue precious points from a game that was fast drifting away from them. Things went from bad to worse for the newly promoted side seconds after Dabbagh’s entry after the game as Vitoria doubled their lead through Thiago Silva.
At 2-0 with just over a quarter an hour to go this game looked dead and buried. Then Oday popped out of nowhere, contested an aerial ball, won possession, blasted past two defenders, and slotted home to start the comeback for his team.
In a very strange way it seemed all pretty normal. The young Jerusalemite didn’t even celebrate; he rushed into the goal, retrieved the ball and sprinted back to the center circle.
Dabbagh’s goal came after just three appearances- the first two lasted a combined thirty minutes. That said, with every appearance he seems to be winning the confidence of the coaching staff despite the lack of match fitness owing to the delay of his visa application.
Next on Oday Dabbagh’s checklist will be a first ever start for the club and he seems to be slowly working his way there. Arouca were a better and more dangerous team with him on the pitch and for a side that has struggled to score goals from open play; the unpredictability of Dabbagh might just help remedy that problem.
Dabbagh’s goal of course is a landmark for players who were produced by the Palestinian fotballing system. When Dabbagh sealed his move to FC Arouca he became only the second WBPL/G-League Product to play in Europe following in the steps of Mohammed Saleh who played in Malta for a season.
Now, Dabbagh is the first graduate of the Palestinian footballing system to score a goal in Europe. Contrary to popular belief he is not the first Palestinian to score in the Portuguese League as both Daniel Kabir Mustafá (1 goal for Belenenses in 2010) and Javier Cohene (6 goals for Paços de Ferreira and Vitoria Setúbal between 2010-14) have done it before.
That said, by scoring at the tender age of 22 years and 289 days old, Dabbagh was able to make history. Consider that he has now scored as many goals in the top flight of a European league than Almoez Ali and Akram Afif combined.
Remember that contingent of Saudi players sent to play in La Liga ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup? Dabbagh has outscored all of them in Europe and he has played in more games than all of them combined.
While Oday Dabbagh was not as young as Egypt’s Mohamed Salah when he scored his first goal for Basel (20), or Roda Antar (21) when he scored his first Bundesliga goal, or Syria’s Sanharib Malki when he scored his first goal in the Jupiler League (22 years, 3 days). Oday Dabbagh has scored his first goal in Europe before many an illustrious Arab player:
What is even more impressive about this list is what some of these players went on to do in their careers. Islam Slimani lit up the Portuguese League and has since become Algeria’s all time leading scorer, Issam Jemâa is Tunisia’s all time leader in goals scored, Salaheddine Bassir is second all-time for Morrocco.
If Oday continues to work hard more goals and assists will come and with that prying eyes might scoop him up- either to one of the Big 3 Portuguese clubs or to a more established club elsewhere in Europe.
Looking back at Oday’s non celebration, it is almost appropriate, that was his 64th league goal. It was his 82nd goal in all club competitions. His 90th if you include his eight national team goals. Tally up what he had done with the Olympic Team and it’s well over 100 goals. You get the sense that there’s many more to come.
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