Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rapid Reaction: Palestine 2:0 Myanmar (2014 Challenge Cup)

Nu'man inspired Palestine to victory. 
Palestine Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Ramzi Saleh (c); Al-Battat, Bahdari, Mahdi, Jaber; Maher, Khader Yousef, Abujazr, Seyam; Nu'man, Abuhabib

Substitutions: Murad Ismail <-> Khader Yousef 17' // Abu Saleh <-> Maher 65' // Bahdari <-> Dheeb 82'  

Cautions: Ashraf Nu'man 18', Musa Abujazr 28', Tamer Seyam 53' 

Goals: Abuhabib 45+4', Ashraf Nu'man 50' 

Full Match Info after the jump...




Recap: A pretty routine win for Palestine in an atmosphere completely juxtaposed to the one they faced on Monday. Palestine should have had the lead early in the first half but Ashraf Nu'man's one-on-one effort was foiled by the Myanmar keeper. Palestine came close again in the 18th minute with Nu'man just failing to connect at the far post. His swing at the advertising boards cost him a harsh yellow card but his confidence did not drop as he nearly scored again from a free kick later in the half.

Palestine were forced into an early substitution as Khader Yousef was withdrawn with what looks to be a rib problem. Despite the impromptu change, Palestine's dominance paid off late in the first half when Nu'man once again attracted the attention of multiple defenders before sending Abuhabib through to slot home.

It was the Gazan's second in as many games and gives him four Challenge Cup goals to his name- six if you count the two qualifying goals against Northern Mariana Islands.

Myanmar could have turned the game on its head early in the first head but Ramzi Saleh made an excellent save at full stretch to deny the equalizer. Moments later it was Ashraf Nu'man popping up again to slice and dice the defence into pieces. Once through on goal he made no mistake.

After that the game settled into a lull. Palestine continued to absorb pressure and exploit clever counters but could not add to their lead. Palestine were denied in the sequence of one play three times- Abuhabib's shot was saved by the keeper, while the follow up from Nu'man deflected off a defender, and the onrushing Haitham Dheeb's rasping shot hit the crossbar.

Despite the lack of aplomb- the result leaves Palestine sitting pretty in Group B. The coaching staff will know that a point against the hosts would be enough to tie up first place and a semifinal spot.

What I liked: Squad rotation. The only players who did not suit up so far are the backup goalkeepers, Omar Jarun, and Imad Zatara. In these sweltering conditions- every player will need to contribute in order to ensure that the squad doesn't run out of gas in the latter stages.

What I didn't like: I think Palestine have played better under Mahmoud and haven't quite hit their stride. While defending deep does neutralize the speed of side like Myanmar it does leave you vulnerable. Good players can score from 20+ yards out and Myanmar could have equalized early in the second half to change the complexion of the game

Myanmar Synopsis: Still a work in progress under Avramovic. Despite their diminutive size- this team has a bite to it. If Raddy can address some of their defensive frailties then there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to sneak through to the final round.

Man of the Match: A goal and an assist for Ashraf Nu'man. The funny thing is that this was not even close to his best- a truly in form Ashraf Nu'man might have bagged a hattrick today.

What's Next: Palestine take on the hosts- The Maldives at 1700 GMT in Addu City on Friday.