This is part of an ongoing series where we take a look at five players who deserve a call up to the senior national team. In this article we take a look at five uncapped players plying their trade in the Gaza League and deserve to be called up to the senior squad.
Ittihad Khan Younis
The 18 year old has just finished school and completed his leaving certification (Tawjihi) but he has already become top scorer of the Gaza League. Al-Nabris first burst onto the stage in 2019 as a part of a dynamic U19 team that recorded some famous scalps in their attempt to qualify for the U20 World Cup.
Al-Nabris has everything needed to become a fantastic and well rounded forward. While some of his teammates at Olympic level are slightly better at hold up play (Reebal Dahamshe and Zaid Qombor) Al-Nabris has a natural knack for scoring and has scored every type of goal you can think of in his young career.
Palestine went through a period where it could not produce a goal scorer but right now the national team can count on the services of Oday Dabbagh, Shehab Qombor, Reebal Dahamshe, and Al-Nabris who are all domestically developed and under the age of 24. That is in addition to a pair of 27 year olds in Mahmoud Wadi and Saleh Chihadeh. The emergence of Al-Nabris should push out older players like Khaled Salem out of the team.
Walid Abu Dan
Holding Midfielder, 26
In a league not serviced by Opta or next generation statistical monitoring the role of the holding midfielder can go unnoticed. Walid Abu Dan played a big part in not only delivering a league title to Shabab Rafah but also helping the team concede a record low number of goals (11) over the course of the 22 game season.
Abu Dan comes from a footballing family and has parlayed that pedigree into a knack for reading the game and preemptively getting his team out of danger. The midfielder, who was born in 1995, should have been part of the team that made it to the quarterfinals of the U23 Asian Cup in 2018 but travel restrictions prevented him from getting out of Gaza at the time.
Should he ever be selected, Abu Dan could provide Palestine with valuable depth at the #6 position and allow Mohammed Rashid to play further up the pitch.
Centre Back, 24
At the end of the 2019/2020 season two youngsters made their way from Khadamat Rafah’s title winning squad to Egypt. One of those went on to sign for a club in the Egyptian top flight, made ten appearances, notched an assist, and became a key part of a side that avoided relegation. That player was Badr Moussa who made his senior team debut in June. The other player was Sami Qadan who signed for Bani Sweif, cancelled his contract and returned to Gaza.
Things weren’t the same for either party last season as they finished midtable conceding 14 more goals than they did the season before. That said, when Qadan returned from his stint in Egypt he immediately shored up a defence that had conceded seven times in four games- leading them on their longest undefeated streak of the the 2020/21 season and anchoring a defence that conceded only four times over four games.
As a result of playing on a rather mediocre team last season, Qadan might not be a consensus pick amongst most observers of the Gaza League. That said, he has significant upside over the two defenders who are widely considered the best in the league Khairy Mahdi (31, Ittihad Shojaeya) and Rifaat Al-Qan (34, Shabab Rafah) and is significantly younger than both.
A ready made solution for a problem position. Rami Hamadi is clearly than the number one and while Amr Kaddoura is the presumptive challenger it is hard to count on his services as long as he stays in the Swedish second division. Kaddoura’s club Landskrona BoIS, has been reluctant to release their player especially when he has yet to play with the national team.
Beyond those two names the position is a deep, dark, black hole. Toufic Ali has the experience but has regressed badly with time. The atrocious 5-0 loss to Saudi Arabia should have been the end of his national team career but yet he remains.
Enter Abdallah Shaqfa, who at 30 has had the best season of his career by conceding a meager 11 goals in 22 games and mind boggling FIFTEEN clean sheets. If the rumors are to believed, he is already on the radar of Makram Dabboub.
The average Palestinian national team player records his final cap before his 27th birthday. Even accounting for players with at least 30 caps, there tends to be an early expiration date on the national team careers of many a player- with the average retirement age coming between a player’s 30th and 31st birthday. As such, it’s hard to make a case for a man who is already 32 but Mahmoud Al-Nairab fills a need, and at the time of writing, it is not clear that the WBPL can provide a player capable of filling the void left by Nazmi Albadawi.
Al-Nairab is one of two play makers highly lauded by viewers of the Gaza League. The other player is former national team player Alaa Attieh who has enjoyed a career resurgence after initially bursting onto the scene as a forward.
That said, Al-Nairab is more of a natural midfielder he can pull the strings from deeper positions and is more interested in passing, rather than shooting. That is what Palestine needs right now with experiments to play Mahmoud Abuwarda and Sameh Maraaba as the most advanced midfielder in a 4-3-3 failing to yield positive results.
Want to become a part owner of a Palestinian Football club? Sign up and become a part of the Canaan FC Project