Sunday, March 20, 2011

All set for Bangladesh...


The national team arrived in Yangoon this past Thursday ahead of their AFC Challenge Cup qualification campaign. The final squad sees only two changes from the one that took part in the friendly series against Pakistan. Jamal Allan and Murad Said have withdrawn and have been replaced by WBPL joint top-scorer Murad Alyan (Hilal Al-Quds) and Jabal Al-Mokaber defender Rafit Eyad. A surprise inclusion in the traveling contingent is Captain Ramzi Saleh who will be providing his support from the sidelines.

First up for Al-Fursan is Bangladesh, a squad they faced in the 2006 edition of the tournament. The result then was a 1-1 draw which saw the team clinch the group on 7 points and a whopping +15 GD (11-0 vs. Guam and 4-0 vs. Cambodia). The only foreign based players in that squad were the ageless Pablo Abdala, Roberto Bishara, and Francisco Alam (Abusidu arrived late and only participated in the quarterfinal). The team now isn't dissimilar despite the absence of established professionals. Before that tournament, Fahed Attal was just a promise (much like Eyad Abugharqud), Keshkesh was just a squad player, as was Ismail Al-Amour. Sure, there were the established steady heads of Jendeya and Al-Kord but let's face it the team started like a house on fire because the supporting cast came of age.

The onus is on the players now. They have had a month to train together, to test their skills against a strong Kuwaiti Olympic Team, and to gain experience playing away from home in Pakistan. For all the talent of the 2006 team their physical fitness was lacking, they ran out of steam against Bangladesh and let up an injury time winner against Kyrgyzstan in the quarterfinals (in a game they dominated statistically). That shouldn't be an issue for the squad now. Moreover, Palestine head into this competition as the most stable team in the group. Bangladesh's manager, Robert Rubicic was appointed in September, Philippines and Myanmar appointed new bosses at the start of the calendar year.

Bezaz has had ample time and is coaching for his job, failure to qualify against unimpressive (with all due respect to the opponents) opposition would surely seal his fate. But there is no reason to expect the worst here and the team seems to be in a very confident mood ahead of their first game.

Goalkeepers:

Mohammed Shbair, Shabab Al-Khaleel
Abdullah Saidawi, Hilal Al-Quds
Saed Abu Sleem, Balata

Defenders

Ahmed Harbi, Al-Am'ary
Mohammed Al-Masri, Dhahrieh
Khaled Mahdi, Al-Am'ary
Samer Hijazi, Jabal Al-Mokaber
Husam Abu Saleh, Hilal Al-Quds
Rafit Eyad, Jabal Al-Mokaber

Midfielders

Ayman Alhendi, Shabab Al-Khaleel
Houssam Wadi, Jabal Al-Mokaber
Suleiman Obeid, Al-Am'ary
Hesham Salhe, Hilal Al-Quds
Khader Yousef, Wadi Al-Nes
Ashraf Nu'man, Wadi Al-Nes
Atef Abu Bilal, Dhahrieh
Ismail Amour, Jabal Al-Mokaber

Forwards

Mohammed Jebreen, Al-Bireh
Mohammed Shatrit, Shabab Al-Khaleel
Eyad Abugharqud, Al-Am'ary
Murad Alyan, Hilal Al-Quds