Monday, February 23, 2009

Football Palestine Exclusive: A "sit down" with Omar Jarun

I got in touch with Palestine and Flota Swinoujscie centre back Omar Jarun and asked him a few questions, heres what he had to say:

Football Palestine: First of all, on behalf of Palestinian football fans everywhere, I'd like to congratulate you on your USL Championship win with the Vancouver Whitecaps and your recent signing with Flota Swinoujscie.

At Dayton University, you played as a forward, what made you switch positions to defense later on in your career?

Omar Jarun: I was a forward my whole career before turning professional. As a youth and through my time at University. When I got drafted in Atlanta, my coach Jason Smith asked me if I had played Center Back before because it was going to be hard to get on the field as a forward. My team needed help at defense. I told him No but I can learn. So it took me 7 games to get a start but ever since then I have not looked back. I still learn the position every day at training and during the games. I enjoy the position and look forward to playing there the rest of my career.

FP: Did you ever consider playing international football before? and how were you approached to represent Palestine internationally?

Omar: I have always wanted to play international football. As a football player this is one of the highest achievements. I always thought I would have to play for the USA. In September of 2007 Majid Hamdan phoned me and asked if I would like to represent Palestine. Without hesitation I said yes. To represent my roots and the great country of Palestine was without a doubt what I wanted to do.

FP: On your national team debut vs Singapore, you weren't dealt a fair hand with regards to the state of the team(horribly organized training camp). Despite that, observers commented that you played a good solid game. What was it like representing Palestine on the field and what difficulties(if any) did you encounter before and during the match?

Omar: The situation was not good for any of the players or the coach of the team. The team was put together only one week before the match. We had no training together what so ever. There was also lots of trouble for other players on the team to even get into the country of Qatar. It was still a great experience representing Palestine that day. The result was not what we wanted but many players including myself can learn from a game like this. We played like 11 individuals that day. I had some difficulty speaking Arabic to many of the players during the game. That was probably my biggest obstacle.

FP: Who of the national team players did you get most closely acquainted with?

Omar: The one player on the team that I got closest to was Ramsey the goal keeper. As a center back it is important to have a good relationship with your goal keeper. Off the field, he is a great human being. He is kind and very genuine.

FP: The national team defense line has become more competitive with several domestic and foreign-based players vying for starter spots. How do you see your future with the national team?

Omar: The national team should always look to bring in better and better players. This is the only way to have the best possible team. I see myself being a big part of the team in the future. I am only growing as a player and by playing in Europe I will become what Palestine needs as a center back to help lead the team to victories.

FP: Last month you signed a contract with Flota Swinoujscie of the Polish I Liga. This will make you the second Palestine national team player to play in Poland, the first being Alexis Norambuena who plays for Jagiellonia Bialystok. Why did you choose to play in the Polish I Liga instead of continuing in North America and what do you hope to accomplish with Flota?

Omar: I knew I must make a move to Europe for the best possible football. My manager Mr. Karpinski thought Poland would be a good start for me. He gave me the opportunity to come on a trial with Flota and I took the opportunity and ran with it. I am here to accomplish two things. First is to get my team Flota promoted to the top flight of Polish football by the end of the season. And second is to better myself as a player on and off the field.

FP: What is your dream club....the club you aspire to play for one day?

Omar: My dream club to play for one day is Liverpool. I hope to play there one day in my career. By hard work and a little luck I think my dream can come true.

FP: Lastly, what would you like to say to Palestinian football fans?

Omar: To the Palestine People: I would first say that my condolences go out to those who have lost family and friends in the recent attack by Israel. I do not agree with what they have done and I personally think it was very wrong. I would like to tell the fans of Palestinian football that a good team is on the horizon. Big steps are being made to make the national team one that can compete with the best in the world. I myself as a individual am becoming the best possible football player I can. I will be ready for future competition. We will progress as a nation on and off the field!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ezzat Hamza: We will leave for Jordan on Saturday
Its day three of the Ramallah closed training camp. According to Ezzat Hamza, the NT will continue its training until Saturday when they will leave for Jordan after cutting the list down to 25 players. He further elaborated that four friendlies will be played in Jordan, premsumably with local clubs, before leaving for the Emirates for a ten day camp, which will be the last stop before making the trip to the Himilayan nation. According to the same article the match schedule is as follows:

26/3 vs Nepal
28/3 vs Afghanistan
30/3 vs Kyrgyzstan

Player Spotlight: Omar Jarun

Name: Omar Jarun
Place of birth: Kuwait City, Kuwait
Age: 25
Height: 6 ft 5 in.
Position: DF(Centre Back)
National Team debut: October 22 2007(vs Singapore - World Cup Qualifier)
Caps: 1
Club: Flota Swinoujscie(Poland - I Liga)

Omar was raised in Peachtree City, Georgia, USA and after playing football in college, he went on to be drafted into the USL Atlanta Silverbacks in 2006. He joined the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2008 season and helped them win the championship. He has signed a contract in January 2009 joining Flota Swinoujscie of the Polish I Liga. Omar received his first cap to date with the national team in October 2007 in the pleminary World Cup qualifier vs Singapore. An excerpt from the post match interview he had with Al Jazeera:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Frontline Football

Excellent series that aired on the BBC highlighting football in troubled regions. A must watch for any international football aficionado.

Bosnia vs Serbia <-----Especially interesting
Palestine vs Iraq

Also covered Colombia vs Venezuela and the Democratic Republic of Congo's 2006 WCQ campaign.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Been busy

There is a lot to talk about, but I am out of town and dont have my laptop. Will be back in a couple of days. heres some quick news: Ezzat Hamza is due in Ramallah where the national team will have a closed training camp following the sessions at the FH Stadium this week. The qualifiers schedule has been announced.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

News from the Training Camp - Day One

Monday marked the official start of the preparations for the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers.
  • 23 players(from the list of 32 who were called up) took part in the training which was mainly fitness oriented and held on the pitch of Faisal Husseini International Stadium. Those who didn't show up had various reasons, among them Ahmad Keshkesh who is in Jordan with his new club, Shabab Al-Ordon.
  • The coaching staff supervised the training as Coach Izzat Hamza is still in Jordan and set to arrive in Ramallah by the end of the week
  • Goalkeeper Coach Ali Badran confirmed that Ramzi Saleh will be called up
  • In Gaza, National Team Captain Saeb Jendeya and company are preparing themselves for a training camp
(source: PFA media office)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Majed Abu Sidu: "Will join Challenge Cup squad"

Salmiya defender Majed Abu-Sidu has confirmed to kooora-Palestine that he has received a call-up and will participate in the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. His statement comes a day after meeting PFA President Jibril Rajub on the latters visit to Kuwait.
Abu-Sidu, a regular fixture in the Palestine defence-line, missed out on the last AFC Challenge Cup in Bangladesh after his club, Salmiya, initially refused to allow him to join ranks as the tournament did not fall on FIFA Matchdays. However he was given permission once Palestine made it to the quarterfinals, only for them to be disqualified before Majed could reach the airport.
With his Salmiya contract ending this year, Majed says he has received numerous offers from other Kuwaiti clubs but will not make a decision until after the national team's qualifiers in April.
As far as this announcement goes its a real boost as his presence solidifies the backline.