Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rapid Reacton: Palestine 2 : 0 Bangladesh

Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Saidawi; Harbi, Bahdari, Mahdi, Hijazi; Hisham Salhe (Abu Saleh 88'), Wadi (Obeid 16'); Amour, Khader Yousef, Nu'man (A. Abu Bilal 66'); Alyan

Goals: Murad Alyan 46', 65'

Recap: Palestine started the match the brighter side, dictating play and dominating possession. A rash tackle on Houssam Wadi in the 16th minute forced Bezaz to go to his bench, bringing on the more offensively minded Suleiman Obeid. Ismail Amour, celebrating a quarter century of caps, did what he does best. A menace on the right side of the pitch a slew of crosses went begging. Ashraf Nu'man had the best chance of the half in the 24th minute with the Bangladesh stopper deflecting his powerful shot centimeters wide. There were chances galore in the first half for Nu'man, Amour, Obeid, and even defenders Abdelatif Bahdari and Samer Hijazi. Despite the barrage, Bangladesh and Palestine headed to the locker room goalless.

The second half saw Palestine grab the game by the scruff of the neck. Just seconds after the whistle, Amour raced into the area and passed to debutant (and senior citizen) Murad Alyan who buried his shot in the lower corner for his first national team goal. Both halves of this match were characterized by a complete defensive dominance by the back line who expertly handled everything Bangladesh had to throw at them. The only real chance for the Bangla Boys came in the 63rd minute which Abdullah Saidawi expertly saved. Two minutes later, Amour and Alyan combined again with Amour's umpteenth cross finding Alyan for his brace. ِAl-Fursan were unlucky not to be awarded a third goal minutes later, Suleiman Obeid's shot had clearly crossed the line before it could be cleared. The refereeing committee failed to see it, thankfully however, Palestine wouldn't need it as they cruised to victory.

What it Means: With the Philippines letting up a late goal to 10-man Myanmar in the Group A opener all Palestine needs to guarantee qualification is 1 win in their next two games. Also of some significance is the fact that this is Palestine's first victory in an international (friendly or otherwise) in 59 months and over a stretch of 24 games (9 draws, 15 losses).

Negatives: The injury to Houssam Wadi leaves Palestine without a real enforcer in midfield.

Positives: The defence was impenetrable. The team also showed a lot of verve to overcome a frustrating first half and put Bangladesh to the sword in the second half.

Star Player: Murad Alyan. A couple of months ago Moussa Bezaz categorically refused to call Alyan up due to his age. All Murad did was keep on scoring with Hilal Al-Quds and looks set to capture his second straight scoring title. Despite, averaging a goal a game he wasn't even initially included in the squad, with Bezaz selecting out of form Jamal Allan instead. What this team needed was a guy who could finish his chances... and Alyan is just that.

What's Next: Palestine will face off against the Philippines in their second group game on March 23rd at 0900 GMT.