Monday, October 15, 2012

World Cup Qualifying: A Rooting Interest


Introduction

The final round of Asian World Cup qualifying gets underway again tomorrow, with five matches on the docket. In previous years, the qualification picture has cleared up pretty quickly with the usual suspects separating themselves from the pack. The landscape started to change in 2010 when Korea DPR capitalized on poor showings by Iran and Saudi Arabia to qualify directly. That said, the other finalists made easy work of qualification- mathematically clinching on June 6th, 2009 with two match days to spare. 

The numbers were startling, only one match lost between the three (Japan lost to Australia on the final match day) and a combined goal differential of +24. 

The final round in 2006 was even less competitive with the best third place teams, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, amassing a meager 4 and 5 points respectively from six games. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paksitan friendlies called off

As reported earlier by our friends over at Football Pakistan the friendlies set for October 12th and 16th have been cancelled. No reason for the cancellation was given. Initial speculation blamed the PFA's tardiness in applying for visas. The Football Pakistan article also mentions Al-Am'ary's involvement in the AFC President's Cup Final as a possible factor for the cancellation but it is unlikely that that was a factor given that not a single Al-Am'ary player made Mahmoud's squad

A more likely reason is the PFF's failure in securing a venue for the friendly- a result of an internal conflict between the sport's governing body in Pakistan and the Punjab Sports Board. 

With both matches falling on FIFA match days The Greenshirts had an opportunity to boost their FIFA ranking with a result in either match. Conversely, Palestine would not have gained any points regardless of the result and would have lost points had they failed to win both games. 

Palestine is ranked 149th (22nd in Asia) in FIFA's October ranking- their highest rank since August 2007. While Pakistan has slipped to 177th (35th in Asia) marking a steady decline since being ranked 156th in February 2010. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Palestine to play Pakistan in October friendlies

After much speculation it has been confirmed that Palestine will play Pakistan in two friendlies on the 14th and 16th of October, respectively. The friendlies were first reported by our friends over at Football Pakistan and then confirmed on FIFA's website.

In preparation Jamal Mahmoud has already organized a couple of training sessions with 15 WBPL players invited to take part. A further five players based abroad are expected to make the trip to Pakistan but those names have yet to be released.

Palestine Squad: 

GK- Mohammed Shbair // Shabab Al-Khaleel
GK- Toufic Ali // Tarji Wadi Al-Nes

DF- Musa Abu Jazr // Shabab Al-Khaleel
DF- Husam Abu Saleh // Hilal Al-Quds
DF- Nadim Barghouthi // Shabab Al-Khaleel
DF- Haitham Dheeb // Hilal Al-Quds*
DF- Raed Fares // Hilal Al-Quds

MF- Abdelhamid Abuhabib // Shabab Al-Khaleel
MF- Atef Abu Bilal // Shabab Al-Khaleel
MF- Khader Youssef // Tarji Wadi Al-Nes
MF- Murad Ismail // Hilal Al-Quds
MF- Amjad Zidan // Tarji Wadi Al-Nes
MF- Ahmed Maher // Shabab Al-Dhahrieh

FW- Fahed Attal // Shabab Al-Khaleel
FW- Mohammed Omar // Jenin
FW- Khaldoun Al-Halman // Ahli Al-Khaleel

*Haitham Dheeb added to the squad after Mohammed Omar suffered a concussion in Jenin's game vs. Shabab Al-Dhahrieh.