Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ali El-Khatib: Turncoat?

El-Khatib: Turning his back on the past (literally)

I don't think this article deserves the attention of our blog especially as the national team is in the midst of attempting to qualify for the Asian Cup vis-a-vis the Challenge Cup. But one quote caught my eye- the fact that he stated that he wanted to play for Israel at the national level. He must think that because he gave the interview to a Hebrew-language paper that word wouldn't leak out to us. 

Thanks to call-ups by Moussa Bezaz during World Cup qualifying (three appearances against Afghanistan and Thailand) this is impossible due to FIFA's rules governing citizenship changes. 

I'll spare you the barrage of insults that will most likely flood the comments section save to say that Ali El-Khatib has a history of committing stupid and juvenile acts both on and off the pitch. This is the guy who got himself a four-game ban for a ridiculous tackle, decided to get married on a Friday in the middle of the domestic season, begged Jabal Al-Mukaber to help him get a release from his Hilal contract, committed to a four-year deal with said club only to change his mind one week later.

And that's just a six-month snapshot. 

Every country has that one player who is immensely talented (averaging a goal every 86 minutes with 4 goals in 4 starts in Ligat Ha'al) but is mentally unstable, selfish, and extremely opportunistic. Ali El-Khatib looks to be that guy. I have no doubt he'll leave struggling Hapoel Haifa for a bigger club in the summer

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Preview: Palestine vs. Azerbaijan (Friendly)

Mahir Shükürov (L)- an unlikely source of goals for the Azeris

International Friendly 
When: February 29, 2012
Where: Dubai Sevens Stadium, UAE
Kickoff: 1330 GMT

TV/Stream: No Arabic Language Channel will televise the match. 

Previous Meetings: None. This will be the first time Palestine faces a UEFA side since reentering FIFA in 1998. 

Vogts's Youth movement: The German manager has called up 14 players under the age of 25 in his squad of 26 players. Only one player- Aleksandr Çertoganov- is over the age of 30. Vogts led the Azeris to their best ever points haul during Euro 2012 qualifying and have proved a tough side to beat, especially at home. Their stint in Dubai has proved to be largely successful, with 5 goals in a draw and victory over Singapore and India, respectively. With their third game in five days coming up against Palestine expect Vogts to the eight previously uncapped players in the side. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Visa troubles could shape Challenge Cup squad

One of the distinctive features of Jamal Mahmoud's latest squad was the inclusion of several new players currently plying their trade in the Lebanese Premier League. It was thought that their presence would help provide the team with added depth especially with the absences of Ismail Amour, Murad Alyan, Imad Zatara, Abdelatif Bahdari, Omar Jarun, Roberto Bishara, and Ali El-Khatib.

The UAE's reluctance to issue them entry visas however has scuppered Jamal Mahmoud's plan ahead of next month's Challenge Cup. The diplomatic kerfuffle has already caused the players to miss the first week of camp as well as Friday's friendly against the UAE. It seems highly unlikely that Mahmoud would include any of the players in the final squad without having seen them in action. As a result the final squad almost picks itself- Abdelatif Bahdari whose name is included in the preliminary list of 30 players- is ruled out due to Hajer's refusal to release him. His partner in defence, Omar Jarun, is in camp but his participation is limited to the Azerbaijan friendly on Wednesday.

That leaves Mahmoud with five cuts (possibly six- if Murad Ismail joins up) to make. If none of the Lebanon-based players can gain entry into the UAE then then Palestine will travel to Nepal with the players currently in camp alongside Mohammed Samara, Houssam Wadi, Ramzi Saleh, Haitham Dheeb, Rafit Eyad, and possibly Murad Ismail. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rapid Reaction: UAE 3:0 Palestine (Friendly)

Palestine Starting XI (4-4-2): Shbair, Fares, Harbi, Barghouthi, M Abujazr; Abu Saleh, Kawre', Khader Youssef, Ashraf Nu'man; Attieh, Attal 

Substitutions: Attieh <-> Abuhabib / Shbair <-> Toufic Ali / Barghouthi <-> Mahdi /
Attal <-> Khaled Salem / Kawre' <-> Elkadi / Nu'man <-> Ahmed Maher

Recap: A pretty dull affair over 90 minutes both sides will feel that they have a lot to improve on. Poor set piece marking allowed the UAE to take the lead after just four minutes of play. They doubled their score less than 10 minutes later when Abu Saleh's raised leg tripped over an onrushing Emirati player resulting in a penalty. The penalty seemed fair but rather soft given the fact that Abu Saleh had won the ball convincingly before any sort of contact was made. Palestine showed flashes of their ability over the 90 minutes but were hampered by an obvious lack of chemistry. Things went from bad to worse when Attieh had to be replaced after 20 minutes due to a foot injury.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Challenge Cup Squad announced

[UPDATED 24.02.2012] 

  1. Husam Abu Saleh, Ahmed Harbi and Mohammed Jamal will travel with the side to the UAE. 
  2. Defenders Haitham Dheeb and Rafit Eyad will catch up with the team later in Nepal. 
  3. Ismail Amour has pulled out with an injury. Zatara will not be released by Sanat Naft. 
  4. Abdelatif Bahdari's participation is still not guaranteed, the PFA is trying to negotiate a release with Hajer. 
  5. Murad Ismail may not make the trip- his brother is seriously ill and had to be hospitalized this past week. 

Jamal Mahmoud has called up 29 players to participate in the UAE camp ahead of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal next month. Despite being barred from participating due to club commitments Abdelatif Bahdari and Imad Zatara are included in the squad. The squad will need to be trimmed by six before the end of the month. 

Ramzi Saleh (Smouha/EGY)
Mohammed Shbair (Shabab Al-Khaleel)
Toufic Ali (Tarji Wadi Al-Nes)

Omar Jarun (Arka Gdynia/POL)#
Abdelatif Bahdari (Hajer/KSA)*
Haitham Khaduj (Tadamon Sour/LIB)**
Mohammed Ghannam (Tripoli/LIB)**
Ali El-Qadi (Team Unknown)**
Ahmed Harbi (Al-Am'ary)^
Khaled Mahdi (Al-Am'ary)
Haitham Dheeb (Hilal Al-Quds)^
Raed Fares (Hilal Al-Quds)
Rafit Eyad (Jabal Al-Mukaber)^
Moussa Abu Jazr (Shabab Al-Khaleel) 
Nadim Barghouthi (Shabab Al-Khaleel)

Mohammed Abu Ateeq (Salam Sour/LIB)**
Mohammed Samara (Arab Contractors/EGY)
Imad Zatara (Sanat Naft/IRN)
Ismail Amour (Al-Am'ary)*
Ma'ly Kawre' (Al-Am'ary)
Abdelhamid Abuhabib (Balata)
Murad Ismail (Hilal Al-Quds)
Houssam Wadi (Ittihad Shajeeya)
Ahmed Maher (Shabab Al-Dhahrieh)**
Ashraf Nu'man (Tarji Wadi Al-Nes)
Khader Youssef (Tarji Wadi Al-Nes)

Alaa Attieh (Yarmouk/JOR)**
Mustafa Hallaq (Al-Akhaa Al-Ahly/LIB)**
Ibrahim Swidan (Tripoli/LIB)**
Fahed Attal (Shabab Al-Khaleel)
Mohammed Jamal (Shabab Al-Khaleel)^
Khaled Salem (Shabab Al-Dhahrieh)

*Suspended for first game against Nepal
** First Call-up
^ Late Addition to the side
# Will only participate in Azerbaijan Friendly  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Arab-Israelis out of Challenge Cup squad in dubious circumstances

Did Ali El-Khatib's controversial move affect the way the PFA does business?

[UPDATE]: Ma'an News is reporting that four of the five players with IFA registration cards will indeed be included in the Challenge Cup squad. Husam Abu Saleh, Ahmed Harbi, and Mohammed Jamal will make the trip to the UAE. Whilst Haitham Dheeb will join up in Nepal. 

After the completion of the WBPL Week 15 fixtures Mahmoud announced the names of his squad that would be traveling to the UAE training camp later this week. Surprisingly all players previously registered with Israeli Football Association had been omitted from the squad. The following players listed in the preliminary squad: Atef Abu Bilal, Husam Abu Saleh, Haitham Dheeb, Ahmed Harbi, and Mohammed Jamal. 

Football Palestine suspects but cannot confirm (partly due to the fact that the PFA has yet to issue a statement) that FIFA put a clamp on the dual registry scheme run by the PFA. Every player entering the WBPL for the first time is issued a new Palestinian registration card if he is registered with the IFA. Ali El-Khatib's move to Hapoel Haifa last month put the system to the test for the first time. The player was under contract with Jabal Al-Mukaber at the time but his original registration card was in the hands of the IFA. 

Jabal Al-Mukaber took the case to a Tel Aviv district court and upon losing vowed to take the matter up with FIFA. 

It seems that there may only be one route to cap Arab-Israelis with IFA registration cards which would mean establishing some form of communication with the Israeli body. Bizarrely, despite Jibril Rajoub meeting with his Israeli Olympic counterpart last winter there remains to no official contact. 

This leads to the inevitable question- Why is there no contact between the two bodies? It is strange that the Palestinian Authority is willing to cooperate with Israel on serious matters- such as security- but not football. The PFA would seemingly have everything to gain- in terms of potential national team players- and nothing to lose in establishing a formal relationship with the IFA. After all, recognizing one's FA is not akin to recognizing their sovereignty, just ask Scotland (Although the PA already recognizes Israel so this should be a non-issue). 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Four more join Challenge Cup squad

Ramzi Saleh will captain the squad in Nepal 

National Team captain Ramzi Saleh has announced his participation at the upcoming Challenge Cup boosting Palestine's title hopes. Ramzi Saleh will also be joined by Yarmouk striker Alaa Attieh (3 goals in five games since joining the club), and Arab Contractors Midfielder Mohammed Samara.

It was revealed that Jamal Mahmoud had attempted to secure the services of Abdelatif Bahdari, Majed Abusidu, and Imad Zatara but was rebuffed by their club sides. Due to the Challenge Cup's non-status as a FIFA-affiliated competition clubs are not required to release their players.

Jamal Mahmoud has announced the addition of ex-Al-Am'ary midfielder Houssam Wadi. The Shejaeya man is the only Gaza-based member of the squad and will be making his first appearance for the National Team since 2014 World Cup qualifying. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Preliminary Challenge Cup squad announced

Jamal Mahmoud with players during Monday's minicamp

National Team manager Jamal Mahmoud has held a minicamp today involving 27 WBPL players ahead of friendlies with the UAE (February 24th) and Azerbaijan (February 29th) and next month's 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal. The list of 27 does not include Murad Alyan (Hilal Al-Quds) who has gone cold scoring only once for either club or country since December. Also missing out are: 

Abdullah Saidawi (Hilal Al-Quds) despite being Mahmoud's #1 at club level and the starter during the Pan-Arab Games,  Eyad Abugharqud (Shabab Al-Khaleel) who has not scored in the new calendar year, Mohammed Al-Masri (Shabab Al-Dhahrieh) who is out indefinitely after fainting during a WBPL match, and Ahmed Keshkesh (Al-Am'ary) who looks set to miss out on yet another tournament under Mahmoud. 

Preliminary Squad:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Winter 2012 Transfer Roundup

It was an unexpected but this has proven to be quite an eventful transfer window for Palestinian players. On the domestic front there was a coaching carrousel which saw defending champions Al-Am'ary dismiss Hisham Al-Zoabi alongside coaching changes at Shabab Al-Khaleel, Jabal Al-Mukaber, and Thaqafi Tulkarem. The aforementioned Al-Zoabi is now at Shabab Al-Khaleel while Samir Isa has had a homecoming of sorts returning to Jabal Al-Mukaber just six months after leaving them for Shabab Al-Khaleel.

Here is the complete round-up of all this past month's transfers: