Monday, October 27, 2008

Palestine 1-1 Jordan

What a match! Tuning in on my laptop at kick-off to watch the live online streaming,I was taken aback by the atmosphere of the stadium.The crowd was cheering from the first second with every Palestinian touch of the ball.For the first time,our national team had the full support of the 'Twelfth man' behind it and it was interesting to see how that would play out.Fahd Attal came close minutes in.

And a few minutes later...this happened:

Stand-in Captain Ahmed Keshkesh entered the history books in the 7th minute of play as the first player to score an international goal on occupied Palestinian soil.The goal left many Palestinian fans speechless to say the least.The rest of the first half was tactically sound with both sides making advances.Fahed Attal kept the Jordanian defense on their toes and Roberto Bishara and AbdulLatif Bahdari cleared out dangerous balls much to the relief of the crowd.

Palestine couldve doubled with a freekick which hit the crossbar.
Jordans coach Fengada must have told his players at the break to start the second half strong.And that they did,equalising 2 minutes in.The Jordanians kept on pressing for a second goal.Mohamed Shelbaye scored a header which was rightfully deemed offside by the linesman.Both teams were reserved towards the end of the match.Palestine Coach Ezzat Hamza made some defensive substitutions and switched to a 4-5-1.And thats how the game ended: a 1-1 draw.Not a strange result between the two sides.
So what made this a good day?
  • The symbolicness of the Palestinian National Team playing kilometres away from East Jerusalem is priceless really.
  • We got to see our national team at its near full potential as of this moment with the home crowd behind it.
  • Achieved a positive result against a big Asian side.This will translate well into next months FIFA ranking
I'll leave you with some pictures and what the world press had to say about the match.Cheers!

Palestinian football team held to draw, but scores a victory
- The Independent(UK)
Palestinian football team plays on home soil for first time - Telegraph(UK)
Palestinian Football Returns Home - BBC

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October 26th 2008 - A day that will go down in Palestinian Football history

Sepp Blatter is going to attend,and there are reports Pele will too. The significance of this event didn't dawn on me till recently.Palestine is slated as the home side,and this time,"home" isn't just a term used as a formality.In previous qualification campaigns,being the home side meant we had to pay for our opponents accomodations,nothing more.The stadia were almost empty of supporters and our players still had to travel distances,it was a shame that a national team with such a huge fanbase in the territories had to play its 'home' matches in other countries.During the last Asian Cup Qualifiers,home games were played in Kweismeh,a suburb of the Jordanian capital Amman.I happened to be in the region and attended the match vs Iraq,we were a couple hundred and the Iraqis were 7 times that...let me tell you,we didnt feel like the home fans.
Now in just a few days,Palestine will play its first international on home soil in a packed stadium,if you told me this last year,I wouldn't have believed you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Faisal Al Husseini Stadium

This is the latest picture of the stadium where Palestine will play its first International match on home soil against Jordan on the 26th of the month.Faisal Al Husseini Stadium is located just north of Jerusalem and it seats 6000.The opening will be attended by Sepp Blatter.
Now about the preperations for the match,the training camp in underway in Ramallah with the domestic players led by Ezzat Hamza(who did an ok job in the WAFF tournament last summer if I might say so).The FA is stepping up efforts to secure overseas players but this could be tough as the match doesnt lie on a FIFA matchday.