Preview: Palestine vs. Jordan (FIFA Arab Cup)

  • What: 2021 FIFA Arab Cup 
  • When: Tuesday, December 7th, 2021
  • Where: 974 Stadium, Doha, Qatar 
  • Kickoff: 5 PM Jerusalem Time 

Previous Encounters

14.10.1976| Palestine 2:1 Jordan| 1976 Pan Arab Games*

06.06.1997| Palestine 1:1 Jordan| Friendly*

26.07|1997| Palestine 1:1 Jordan| 1998 Arab Cup

18.08.1998| Jordan 2:0 Palestine| 1999 Pan Arab Games

29.08.1999| Jordan 4:1 Palestine| 1999 Pan Arab Games

04.04.2000| Jordan 5:1 Palestine| 2000 Asian Cup Qualifying

16.12.2002| Palestine 1:1 Jordan| 2002 Arab Cup 

17.06.2004| Palestine 1:1 Jordan| 2004 WAFF Championship

26.10.2008| Palestine 1:1 Jordan| Friendly

11.12.2011| Palestine 1:4 Jordan| 2011 Pan Arab Games* 

06.08.2013| Jordan 4:1 Palestine| Friendly*

16.01.2015| Palestine 1:5 Jordan| 2015 Asian Cup

15.01.2019| Palestine 0:0 Jordan| 2019 Asian Cup

A case of Deja Vu

Palestine and Jordan cannot seem to avoid each other. Al-Fida’i has been drawn with Al-Nashama at every major tournament since their admission to FIFA in 1998. The two sides locked horns at the 1998 and 2002 Arab Cup as well as the 2015 & 2019 Asian Cups. The record of results does not make for pleasant reading for Palestine fans. In nine official games, Palestine has failed to beat Jordan. Their lone win against their biggest rivals came way back in 1976. Palestine will be hoping they can draw upon that long forgotten history when the two teams face off at the 974 Stadium on Tuesday. 

Win & You’re In

Palestine will qualify for the knockout stages of the Arab Cup with a win and a Saudi Arabia draw or loss. If that does unfold they will face either Egypt or Algeria on Saturday in the quarterfinals

A lot was made in the aftermath of Palestine’s 1-1 draw with Saudi Arabia about how Palestine blew a golden opportunity at three points. While getting a win is always better than settling for a draw the 1-0 result would not have necessarily changed much for Palestine going into this game. 

The draw allowed Saudi Arabia to stay alive meaning they have a theoretical chance of advancing to the knockout round with a win against Morocco. That said, the Green Falcons stand little chance against a Moroccan side that has been relentless in their quest to defend their Arab Cup title. 

For Palestine, a 1-0 win against Saudi would have opened the door to clinch qualification with just a draw but that might have been something of a poison chalice. The tiebreaker Palestine would have been depending on, fairplay points, is an aggregate of yellow cards and red cards collected. A scenario that might have left Palestine’s less experienced players distracted counting cards instead of focusing on the task at hand.  

Jordan struggling with injuries

Jordan arrived in Qatar with a squad that featured all its important contributors with the exception of Belgium based Musa Al-Tamari. Fast forward a week and Adnan Hamed’s side has been completely decimated. Anas Al-Owadat tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the tournament and then Jordan lost their right back, Ehsan Haddad, for the remainder of the group stage when he picked up a red card against Saudi Arabia. 

The defensive crisis escalated when centre back Mohammed Al-Demeiri picked up an abdominal tear that ruled him out of the Morocco game. Ahmed Thaer, another defender, was also injured in the warm-up just before kickoff of the Morocco game.

Jordan’s attackers have not been spared either. First, Yazan Al-Naimat was ruled out with a muscular injury following the Saudi Arabia game. Things went from bad to worse when captain Bahaa Faisal tore his ACL after fifteen minutes of play against Morocco. 

The infirmary is currently overflowing, with no fewer than eight players receiving treatment at the Aspetar Clinic. 

Palestine are relatively healthy, although the status of Mohammed Yamin- who had to be substituted with a shoulder injury- remains up in the air. 

How will they line up? 

Palestine looked a lot better in their 4-1-4-1 formation against Saudi Arabia but there are pressing issues that will need to be addressed going forward. Firstly, the aforementioned injury to Yamin will present a question to the coaching staff. Do they trust the man who replaced him for the second half of the Saudi Arabia game, Odai Kharoub, to deliver in such a high pressure situation? Or will they try a different solution? 

One of the possibilities would be to draft in veteran Mohammed Darweesh to play as the holding midfielder and get Mohammed Rashid in a more advanced position in the hopes he can get into the sort of shooting positions he found- with great success- against Saudi Arabia. 

The other conundrum is what to do with the #9 position. Palestine carried only one true forward for this tournament- Reebal Dahamshe- but has yet to start him. In his place, Palestine started Mahmoud Eid against Morocco and then Khaled Salem- who was not even in the initial squad- against Jordan. 

The Khaled Salem experiment failed miserably once again, with the forward wasting the good work of Tamer Seyam in the first half. More than that his movement was belabored and he once again did very little to link play between midfield and attack. 

Palestine created far more chances once he was withdrawn for Reebal Dahamshe and that was in spite of the fact that Saudi Arabia had been playing more effectively in the second half. 

In order to chart a path to the quarterfinals of the Arab Cup, Palestine will need to be more effective in attack. The win they need will not come unless they can find the back of the net