Sunday, October 19, 2014

Is Ahmed El-Hassan really Palestine's new manager?

Ahmed El-Hassan rocking some free AFC swag

Palestine are on the verge of making history with their participation in their first ever major international tournament. Unfortunately, Jamal Mahmoud's sudden resignation has left them scrambling to find a manager capable of selecting, preparing, and leading a group of 23 players who will be viewed by hundreds of millions of people across the Asian continent. 

More after the jump...

After a month long search, PFA President Jibril Rajoub appointed a man who works in the same building. Ahmed El-Hassan is an unassuming figure with limited coaching experience who most recently held an administrative position overseeing coaching for the PFA. 

His previous coaching experience doesn't look particularly impressive. He was in charge briefly at a pre-WBPL Al-Am'ary in 2006. The next year, he was the assistant manager to Nelson Dekmak whose one-game tenure coincided with Palestine's worst result in a competitive fixture- a 4-0 loss to Singapore in 2010 World Cup qualifying. 

He resurfaced again, three years later, to take over the the Hilal Jericho post but resigned five games into the season after a four game losing streak with the team bottom of the table. 

An atrocious coaching record aside, Ahmed El-Hassan does have one thing going for him- An AFC 'A' Coaching License. 

This is important because it is the one thing that would prevent former Palestine captain Saeb Jendeya from leading the team out in Australia. Interestingly enough, Saeb Jendeya, Makram Dabdoub and Firas Abu Radwan have retained their positions, maybe to ensure continuity, but probably because the PFA is not interested in fully handing the reigns over to Ahmed El-Hassan. 

Many things about this appointment are fishy- such as the fact that the PFA issued a denial that Ahmed El-Hassan had been handed the job days before he was appointed. Moreover, if Jamal Mahmoud's replacement was in the building why wasn't Ahmed El-Hassan handed the role before the friendlies vs. India and Pakistan? 

If you need anymore evidence that this appointment is nothing more than an adminstrative move designed to avoid the wrath of the AFC, look no further than the official press release. Ahmed El-Hassan's name makes a single appearance- and it's buried in the third paragraph. 

Barring an unexpected change of heart from Jamal Mahmoud this is quite explicitly Saeb Jendeya's team going forward.