Rapid Reaction: Palestine 2:0 Bangladesh

Palestine Starting XI (3-4-3): Toufic Ali (Ahmed Khalifa), Mohammed Saleh, Yaser Hamed Mayor, Abdelatif Bahdari; Musa Farawi, Musa Saleem (Mohammed Darweesh), Odai Kharoub (Musab Al-Battat), Ahmed Qatmish; Fadi Zidan (Khaled Salem), Mahmoud Eid (Tamer Seyam), Layth Kharoub (Mahmoud Abu Warda)

Goals: Layth Kharoub 33′, Yaser Hamed Mayor 46′



Recap: Make it three in a row. Much like their meetings in 2018 and 2020 Palestine registered a 2-0 win over Bangladesh in the Dolen Omurzakov stadium on Sunday night in a match that featured Palestine experimenting with a three-man backline for the first time since Julio Baldivieso’s last match in charge.

The quality of the opposition meant that an audacious experiment was one way to take advantage of the encounter. The new shape was something many of the players had not encountered before and Makram Dabboub could be heard screaming instructions from the sideline throughout the game.

It took the Palestinians some time to settle into the attacking phase of play but things began to percolate with Mahmoud Eid picking up from where he left off on Thursday. It did take a while for the floodgates to break but that moment did come courtesy of some route one football. Mahmoud Eid got on the end of a long ball forward from Ahmed Qatmish and chipped the onrushing goalkeeper who turned around to see the onrushing Layth Kharoub tap it into an empty net.

There was a hattrick of audacious saves after that, with Mahmoud Eid, Fadi Zidan, and Layth Kharoub all being denied before the close of the first half.

Palestine looked far sharper in the second half and were duly rewarded one minute after kickoff with a second goal. Mahmoud Eid was the provider again this time drifting a cross from the left for the underlapping Yaser Hamed Mayor. The Basque born defender has now notched an incredible five goals in just fifteen caps since debuting two years ago.

Palestine had several chances to extend their lead but the lack of a true number nine meant many attacks broke down in the box. Tamer Seyam provided a spark late in the game off the bench and nearly made it 3-0 but he was again denied by a spectacular save.

All in all, Palestine can be content to have experimented with a new system to some degree of success and to have run out comfortable 2-0 winners.

What I liked: It was good to experiment against such poor opposition. This would not be anyone’s first choice of opponent to prepare for the Arab Cup but there will be things we can take away from playing a new system that took advantage of the fact that Mohammed Saleh, Abdelatif Bahdari, and Yaser Hamed Mayor are all top class defenders. Things did not click early but the team grew into the game and you could see that whatever Makram Dabboub told them team at halftime worked as they were playing with a lot more fluidity to end the match.

What I didn’t like: Why is Khaled Salem always getting an opportunity? I liked that he alongside with the equally atrocious Sameh Maraaba and Mohammed Khalil were dropped for this match but it never ceases to amaze me how this guy gets on the pitch. His no look pass to no one in the 83rd minutes was a sight to behold.

Best Player: I think two players who had gotten the short end of the stick over the years proved their worth. Fadi Zidan was a constant source of danger but I think for the second straight game Mahmoud Eid stood a class apart with two fantastic assists.

What’s Next: There are FIFA windows in October and November but the PFA has not announced any friendlies. It’s widely rumored that a friendly with Malaysia is on the cards but travel restrictions due to COVID-19 could scupper that plan.

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