Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Preview: UAE vs. Palestine (2018 World Cup Qualifier)


Abdel Nasser Barakat doling out instructions in Abu Dhabi

Game Information

What: 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying
When: March 24th, 2016
Where: Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Kickoff: 1500 GMT
Streams/TV: pal24.net 

Previous Encounters: 

September 2015 (2018 World Cup Qualifying): Palestine 0:0 UAE
February 2012 (Friendly): UAE 3:0 Palestine
October 2009 (Friendly): UAE 1:1 Palestine
July 2006 (WAFF Championship): Palestine 0:0 UAE
November 1999 (Pan Arab Games): Palestine 1:0 UAE

Injuries: Mahmoud Eid was a late scratch with the coaching staff deciding that the forward was short of match fitness having just returned from injury. Also exiting the team's plans for the game against UAE are Hamada Mar'aba, Rami Hammadi, and Ali Adwi.



Watch the pre-match press conference, here.
Do or Die 

This might just be the game to watch on the continent on this qualifying match day. Simply put a draw does little for the fortunes of both teams. If Palestine draws their dreams of World Cup qualification are over and they will be left to focus on a return to the UAE via the Asian Cup qualifying path.

As for the Emiratis, they'll need to win out to qualify as group winners. In fact, anything less than four points will spell doom for the UAE's hopes as well; failure to pick up three of those points tomorrow night in Abu Dhabi would mean the UAE will have to beat Saudi Arabia something they have done only once in the last 24 years (18 games).

New faces 

Palestine have called up Ahli Al-Khaleel's Shadi Shaaban and Ahmed Awad (Dalkurd, Sweden) have been called up and are with the team at their hotel in Abu Dhabi. Both players have outside chances at seeing game time against UAE. Carlos Salom- facing visa issues- will not be able to make it in time to Abu Dhabi but could join the team in Palestine for the game vs. Timor Leste.

UAE ready, but pressure mounts 

The UAE is pulling out all the stops for this game with end-to-end coverage on all their sporting networks this week. The Sons of Zayed concluded their preparations with a 6-1 hammering of Bangladesh on Friday but ended the first half deadlocked at 1-1 and showed an inability to break down their stacked banks of four.

To make matters worse, Ali Mabkhout has been ruled out against Palestine with injury. Leaving Mahdi Ali dependent on youngster Salem Saleh and veteran Ismail Matar to plug the gap alongside Ahmed Khalil.

Transportation and free food on offer

In order to mobilize fans to the game, the UAE FA has made a significant portion of tickets free to the public (with the most expensive ticket selling for $13). Moreover, buses will leave Arabian Gulf Premier League side headquarters in Dubai (Al-Wasl, Al-Ahli, Al-Shabab, Al-Nasr) and Bani Yas at 3 PM on the day of the match. Those fans will be fed in an effort to try and get as much support as possible. Thousands of free flags will also be handed out at the stadium.

In accordance with the bylaws of the Asian Football Confederation 8% of tickets have been set aside for the away fans.

As the Palestinian community is quite large here (estimated at 100,000) expect to see the away fans outnumber the locals by a significant margin.

Keys to the Game 

Palestine will need to come out swinging here so their approach will need to be more like the one they took in Algiers in February. A stalemate simply won't do for Palestine but as this is an away game- the question of balance enters the frame. Palestine simply cannot afford to give up a goal in the first twenty minutes or hope that a defensive error goes unpunished or that Toufic Ali can somehow save the day with a last second intervention.

Palestine's ability to transition quickly will be key to whether or not they leave Abu Dhabi with three points.

Discipline will be important, Australian referee Ben Williams is not at all shy about doling out yellow and red cards. The Canberra-born man in black doled out 10 yellow cards in an A-League game between Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory just this past weekend.

For the UAE, they will need to find a way to expose Palestine in the center of the pitch. Palestine does have a tendency to get overwhelmed in the middle of the park by stronger sides and if Omar Abdulrahman's teammates take advantage of the space given to them they should be able to make Palestine pay.

SQUADS

PALESTINE
Goalkeepers:

Palestinian territories Toufic Ali
Club: Shabab Dora
Age: 25 (08/11/1990)
Appearances: 24 (0)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Palestinian territories Ghanem Mahajneh
Club: Shabab Al-Khaleel 
Age: 24 (20/04/1991)
Appearances: None
Last Call-up: v. Timor Leste (WCQ 08/10/2015)

Palestinian territoriesAzmi Shweiki
Club: Ahli Al-Khaleel
Age: 29 (13/06/1986)
Appearances: 0 (0)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Defenders:


Chile Alexis Norambuena 
Club: CD La Serena
Age: 31 (31/03/1984)
Position: Left Back
Appearances: 9 (0)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Club: Shabab Al-Khaleel 
Age: 32 (20/02/1984)
Position: Center Back 
Appearances: 38 (1)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Palestinian territories Mus'ab Al-Battat
Club: Shabab Al-Dhahrieh
Position: Right Back
Age: 22 (12/11/1993)
Appearances: 11 (1)
Last Call-up: v. Timor Leste (WCQ 08/10/2015)


Palestinian territories Haitham Deeb
Club: Hilal Al-Quds
Position: Center Back
Age: 30 (03/12/1986)
Appearances: 20 (1)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Palestinian territories Abdullah Jaber
Club: Ahli Al-Khaleel
Position:  Left Back
Age: 23 (17/02/1993)
Appearances: 20 (1)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Palestinian territories Fadi Salbees 
Club: Hilal Al-Quds
Position: Left Back
Age: 22 (01/05/1993)
Appearances: 1 (0)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Palestinian territories Tamer Salah
Club: Hilal Al-Quds
Position: Centre Back
Age: 29 (03/04/1986)
Appearances: 9 (0)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Midfielders:

Chile Jonathan Cantillana 
Club: CD Palestino (on loan at Ahli Al-Khaleel)
Position: Midfielder
Age: 23 (26/05/1992)
Appearances: 4 (1)
Last Call-up: v. Timor Leste (WCQ 08/10/2015)

Palestinian territories Mohammed Darwish 
Club: Shabab Al-Dhahrieh
Position: Defensive Midfielder
Age: 23 (b. 1992)
Appearances: 5 (0)
Last Call-up:  v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Slovenia Jaka Ihbeisheh
Club: NK Rudar
Position: Winger
Age: 29 (29/08/1986)
Appearances: 8 (2)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Palestinian territories Tamer Seyam
Club: Shabab Al-Khaleel
Position:  Winger
Age: 23 (28/11/1992)
Appearances: 11 (3)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Palestinian territories Shadi Shaaban
Club: Ahli Al-Khaleel
Position:  Defensive Midfielder
Age: 24 (04/03/1992)
Appearances: 0 (0)

Palestinian territories Pablo Tamburini 
Club: Al-Bireh
Position: Midfielder
Age: 25 (30/01/1990)
Appearances: 6 (1)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

 Palestinian territories Khader Yousef
Club: Tarji Wadi Al-Nes
Position: Midfield
Age: 31 (06/10/1984)
Appearances: 60 (2)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Forwards: 

Palestinian territories Ahmad Abu Nahyeh
Club: Shabab Al-Khaleel
Position: Striker
Age: 24 (07/07/1991)
Appearances: 3 (4)
Last Call-up:  v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Sweden Ahmed Awad
Club: Dalkurd FF
Position: Winger/Forward
Age: 23 (06/01/1992)
Appearances: 0 (0)

Malaysia Matias Jadue 
Club: PKNS FC
Position: Forward
Age: 23 (16/05/1992)
Appearances: 6 (1)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

Palestinian territories Sameh Mar'aba
Club: Khader FC
Position: Forward
Age: 24 (18/03/1992)
Appearances: 7 (2)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

 Ashraf Nu'man 
Club: Hajer
Age: 29 (29/07/1986)
Position: Wide Forward
Appearances: 51 (14)
Last Call-up: v. Malaysia (WCQ 12/11/2015)

UAE

Goalkeepers: 
Majed Nasser (Al-Ahli) Ali Khosseif (Al-Jazira), Khaled Eissa (Sharjah)

Defenders: 

Abdelaziz Sanquor (Al-Ahli), Abdelaziz Husain (Al-Ahli), Abdullah Musa,  Mohammed Ahmed, Ismail Ahmed, Mohammed Fawzi, Mohannad Salem (All Al-Ain), Walid Abbas (Al-Ahli), Fares Juma (Al-Jazira)

Midfielders 

Omar AbdulRahman (Al-Ain), Amer AbdulRahman (Bani Yas) Habib Fardan, Majed Hassan, Khamis Ismail, Ismail Al-Hammadi, Majed Al-Ahmadi (All Al-Ahli), Hassan Ibrahim (Al-Shabab), Ahmed Al-Ebri (Al-Dhafra)

Forwards: 

Ahmed Khalil (Al-Ahli), Salem Saleh (Al-Nasr), Ismail Matar (Al-Wahda), Ali Mabkhout (Al-Jazira)