Friday, May 25, 2012

Palestine crowned Nakba Cup Champions



Palestine Starting XI: Toufic Ali; Raed Fares, Abdesallam Al-Sweikeri, Rafit Eyad, Musa Abujazr; Husam Abu Saleh, Murad Ismail, Khader Yousef, Amjad Zidan; Ashraf Nu'man; Fahed Attal


Substitutions: Amjad Zidan <-> Abdelhamid Abuhabib // Murad Ismail <-> Ma'ly Kawre' // Khader Yousef <-> Roberto Kettlun

Highlights (Penalty Shootout): 







MBC's Sada Al-Melaeb:





Recap: It wasn't a classic by any means but in the end Palestine won the Nakba Cup in a drama-filled Penalty Shootout. Jamal Mahmoud had opted for a more cautious approach to this game with a double pivot of Murad Ismail and Khader Yousef protecting the inexperienced Eyad and Al-Sweikeri. The star of the match was undoubtedly Toufic Ali who came up big with key saves to keep the Tunisians at bay in the first half.

Palestine were better in the second half but there was no separating the teams after 90 minutes and it became very evident in extra time that an extra 30 minutes was not going to settle it either. To penalty kicks we went. Husam Abu Saleh saw his first saved but the following takers (Abuhabib, Kettlun, Abujazr, and Nu'man) took their kicks with aplomb. Toufic Ali saved two penalties to cap off an historic win for Palestine.

Man of the Match: Toufic Ali. The Wadi Al-Nes 'keeper has grown exceptionally under Jamal Mahmoud's guidance. He had a shocking final 30 minutes against Kuwait in the 3rd Place Playoff of the Pan Arab Games but has since recovered brilliantly and is now the unquestioned #2 behind Ramzi Saleh.

What I Liked:  Palestine won without really playing their best football- proof positive that we are still in the early stages of Jamal Mahmoud's project. Players like Toufic Ali, Al-Sweikeri, Eyad, Zidan, Maher, and Al-Halman gained valuable experience and Roberto Kettlun was reincorporated in the squad. This will help Palestine's problem with depth in the long-run.

What's Next: Team flies out to Doha on Sunday to face Qatar in a friendly on May 28th. Expect big names to join up with them there.