Rapid Reaction: Palestine 1:5 Jordan (FIFA Arab Cup)

Starting XI (4-4-2): Amr Kaddoura, Mohammed Saleh, Yaser Hamed Mayor, Abdelatif Bahdari, Mohammed Khalil (Ahmed Qatmish); Mahmoud Abu Warda, Odai Kharoub, Mohammed Rashid, Tamer Seyam; Khaled Salem (Mahmoud Eid), Reebal Dahamshe 

Substitutions: 

80’ Mahmoud Eid FOR Khaled Salem

80’ Ahmed Qatmish FOR Mohammed Khalil

Goals: 

PALESTINE: Tamer Seyam 44’, Yaser Hamed Mayor 82’ (in his net)

JORDAN:  Bahaa Abdelrahman 8’ (p.), Hamza Dardour 28’, Yazan Al-Niamat 86’, 91’

Cautions: 

PALESTINE: Tamer Seyam 45+2’

JORDAN: None

Recap: Palestine lined up in a 4-4-2 for the first time since 2014 as Makram Dabboub looked to generate added offense in a must win game. There was a single change to the side that drew against Saudi Arabia on Saturday with the injured Mohammed Yamin making way for the extra forward in the lineup- 19 year old Reebal Dahamshe. 

Palestine started with an intent to attack although to their usual 4-1-4-1 shape early on. In the 8th minute, Anas Sharara who Jordanian fans had been clamoring for, won a penalty. It was the start Palestine dreaded as Jordanian captain Bahaa Abdulrahman made no mistake from the spot. 

Palestine had a chance to level almost immediately but the much derided Khaled Salem missed from point blank range. 

Palestine would continue to pour forward but they were now even more vulnerable to Jordan’s style of play. The absence of Abdallah Jaber was felt on the first goal and on the second goal, the absence of Musab Al-Battat was exploited by Yaseen Al-Bakhit who dribbled past Mohammed Saleh and Mohammed Rashid before passing to Hamza Dardour to slot home his 32nd goal from point blank range. The image of the man putting Jordan 2-0- much like he did in Melbourne seven years ago- must have given fits to the Palestine supporters. 

Credit to Paletstine though they continued to push knowing they had no choice if they wanted to advance to the quarterfinals. 

Red jerseys poured forward en masse and chances came but Palestine failed to capitalize on the eight corners they won. A breakthrough seemed to be a long way off when Abdelatif Bahdari put a header wide in the 41st and Tamer Seyam skied his shot a minute later. 

Palestine did find a way to half the deficit at the stroke of halftime; a high press won the ball back for Palestine on the left flank and allowed Reebal Dahamshe to play in Mahmoud Abu Warda whose pin-point cross was headed in by Tamer Seyam. 

Palestine would continue to push numbers forward in the second half and had a golden chance to equalize when Khaled Salem was sent clean through. 

Palestine would continue to come in waves at the Jordanian defence and it looked like Tamer Seyam had an equalizer with 20 minutes to go. The call went to VAR and Khaled Salem was adjudged to be offsides by the narrowest of margins- although controversially the TV graphics said “goal” and the screen that was supposed to show the player offside did not show that. 

As Adnan Hamed went to his bench again and again Makram Dabboub only made changes in the 80th minute. By then Palestitne was utterly exhausted and a deluge of Jordanian goals came. Just as Palestine could not get the ball to go in- Jordan could not stop scoring. Goals went in every which way. A looping deflection, an interception and a hopeful scooped shot, a hopeful ghosted run. Turned a close game into a blowout. 

Palestine managed 20 shots, generated nine corners but just could not get them to hit the back of the net. 

The result, a mirrored scoreline of their 5-1 loss to the Jordanians at the 2015 Asian Cup and allows the Jordanians to retain bragging rights in the derby. Palestine have now gone 10 official matches (0W-5D-5L) and twelve total matches (0W-5D-7L)

What I liked: The players showed fight and grit. I don’t care what the scoreline says. Jordan won a battle with their first team against a depleted Palestine team. The Jordanians kept crying to anyone who would listen about how the veteran team they brought was struggling with injury. 

Palestine were fielding a weakened squad and just got on with business. Their starting goalkeeper Rami Hamadi, their left back Abdallah Jaber, their right back Musab Al-Battat, Mahmoud Wadi, Saleh Chihadeh, Oday Dabbagh, Nazmi Albadawi and his presumed replacement Mohamed Alghoul were not at this tournament. 

Then they lost Moody Yamin to a separated shoulder. It didn’t matter- they kept going. They showed a great spirit and although on paper this tournament is a step back from the 2019 Asian Cup, I saw a confident team, one that could build attacks and one that worked hard for one another. If they just had two of the aforementioned absences they could have routed Jordan. 

Jordan will celebrate this win, as they rightly should, but any critical analysis will show that Palestine was missing five starters from the last time this team met and three starters from the qualifying round when they fielded a “weakened” team. 

The other positive? The PFA was due to get $1 Million for winning this match- money that would have been pilfered by Jibril Rajoub. The players have yet to receive any bonuses for qualifying for the FIFA Arab Cup despite the $750,000 that was paid out to the PFA.

What I didn’t like: I want to be fair in any criticism that is directed towards Makram Dabboub. I think he did alright given the circumstances but he made the circumstances harder by some of his squad selections. Khaled Salem could have had a hat trick today. He could have scored against Saudi Arabia. 

The margins in tournament play are thin and I have no idea what gave him the confidence to start this man twice. The decision to drop Musa Farawi was understandable at first since it was presumed that Musab Al-Battat was to play every single minute of the tournament. When he got injured, the only man who could come close to replicating his form was left at home in favor of…. Khaled Salem. 

Also we needed to make substitutions earlier. If we weren’t going to use Ali Adawi and Abdelhamid Abuhabib- why not do what Syria did with Al-Mawas? Include Mahmoud Wadi in the squad and wait for him to come for the last game. 

Man of the Match: I don’t usually hand out this award in losing efforts but Tamer Seyam was the best player either side had today. It’s not even close. He was amazing. A one man wrecking crew that was let down by the fact that his forward partners were not Dabbagh, Chihadeh, and Wadi but Khaled Salem and a 19 year old Reebal Dahamshe. 

What it Means: Palestine finish bottom of Group C with a single point and exit the tournament. There is no word on whether Palestine will make a change in regards to its manager. Jordan go on to play the runner up of Group D (either Egypt or Algeria). 

What’s Next: Palestine’s next games will be a condensed version of Asian Cup qualifying. They will play three games against three opponents in a centralized location (TBD on both counts) in June 2022. The top two of each group will advance to the finals in China in June 2023.  

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