Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Palestine through to Asian Games knockout stage after 2-1 win over Tajikistan

Mara'ba was on the scoresheet again for Al-Fida'i
Palestine Starting XI: Hammadeh, Al-Battat, Salah, Mahdi, Jaber; Abu Warda, Kharoub Al-Koori, Musa; Maher, Mara'ba

Cautions: Oday Kharoub 41', Hilal Musa 60' 

Goals: Mara'ba 34', Musa 37'

Highlights after the jump....



Palestine made it two wins on the trot in the 2014 Asian Games securing a sensational come from behind victory against Tajikistan. Palestine were the stronger of the two sides in the first half, despite this Al-Fida'i found themselves down 1-0 after Asrorov capitalized on confusion between Hammadeh and his defenders. His poached ball was fired into the back of the net with considerable aplomb. 

It took Palestine less than four minutes to respond- a well worked series of passes found Hamada Mara'ba, who once again cooly finished to the keeper's near post for his second goal of the tournament. Palestine wouldn't have to wait long for a winner, Hilal Musa scored one of the prettiest goals in the history of Palestinian Football with a curling, rasping shot that evaded the best efforts of the Tajik keeper. 

Palestine could have added to their lead before halftime as their dominance in the final third was beginning to overwhelm Tajikistan. The Central Asians were unlucky not to draw level on the stroke of half-time, as they were foiled by a series of epic saves from Rami Hammadeh and a goal-line clearance courtesy of Mus'ab Al-Battat.

Ahmed Maher celebrates the win.
Palestine were again afforded chances to add to their lead early in the second half but were unable to find the finishing touch. As time went on, the team retreated into a more defensive shell in order to counter the constant Tajik attacks down the right flank. Mahmoud Sheikhqasem (Al-Koori) struggled to cope with the physicality of the game and was often fighting for dear life in the middle of the pitch. Despite their struggles, Rami Hammadeh made sure Palestine would see the game out. The Tahqafi Tulkarem keeper didn't put a foot wrong after his early error making at least a half-a-dozen saves in the final 45 minutes of the half. 

With the other Group C game between Oman and Singapore ending in a 3-3 draw- Palestine are now guaranteed an extended stay in Incheon. 

What's Next: Palestine will play Singapore at 11 AM Jerusalem Time on Sunday, January 21st. A point will guarantee top spot in Group C. 

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