Wednesday, April 15, 2015
|The road to Russia/UAE begins on June 11.|
Palestine were left with a relatively manageable group after the dust settled in Kuala Lumpur immediately following the 2018 World Cup Qualifying draw. Palestine were the first team out of Pot 3 which came to the relief of many after seeing the likes of 2010 World Cup Finalist Korea DPR drawn against underrated Yemen in Group H.
Joining Palestine in Group A are UAE, Saudi Arabia, Timor Leste, and Malaysia.
More after the jump...
Thursday, April 2, 2015
|Palestine's Road to Russia and the UAE will be determined on April 14th|
After a series of home and away qualification matches the Asian Football Confederation has whittled down the number Asian countries participating in World Cup qualifying from 46 to 40.
The draw will be held in Kuala Lumpur on April 14th at 1700 local time.
Surviving the cull are India (2-0 winners over Nepal), Yemen (3-1 winners over Pakistan), Cambodia (4-1 winners over Macau), Chinese Taipei (2-1 winners over Brunei), and surprise packages Bhutan (2-1 winners over Sri Lanka) and Timor Leste (5-1 winners over Mongolia).
The vanquished nations will be left with a lot of time on their hands as the next qualifying matches they will play will be four years from now- in an attempt to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. As the AFC decided to merge World Cup and Asian Cup qualification- these countries have also suffered a premature exit from the first 24-team Asian Cup due to be held in the United Arab Emirates.
The remaining 40 teams have been placed into five pots based on the forthcoming April 2015 FIFA Ranking. The eight group winners and four best runners-up will progress to the Third Stage of World Cup qualifying and earn a berth at the 2019 Asian Cup.
As for the Asian Cup qualifying repechage, the four worst last place finishers in the group stage will be excluded with the remaining 24 teams fighting it out for the remaining 12 spots (six groups of four teams with the top two advancing seems the most plausible format).
Due to the recency effect of the FIFA Rankings, teams that participated in recent friendlies or qualifiers had a big effect on which pot they ended up in.
As Palestine didn't play a friendly in March they were condemned to Pot 3. With only 32 points separating Kuwait, the lowest ranked Pot 2 side, and Palestine; the scratched wins against Azerbaijan (2-0, Feb. 2012) and Malaysia (2-0, Mar. 2013) could have come in handy. All in all, though, the PFA is to blame for not organizing friendlies (or hiring a manager) during the March window. A place in Pot 2 could have boosted Palestine's chances at advancing to Round 3 and this has to be seen as a giant missed opportunity.
The Pots are as follows:
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
|Fadi Zidan puts an end to proceedings in Tehran|
Despite their dominance, Palestine struggled to capitalize on some great chances throughout the game, only opening the scoring after half an hour, courtesy of a Mohammed Mara'aba goal.
The same player doubled the score 63 minutes in. Taraji Wadi Al-Nes striker Fadi Zidan then put the finishing touches on the win with goals in the 64th and 81st minute.
More After the Jump...
Monday, March 30, 2015
|Fadi Zidan with Palestine's best chance of the game.|
Palestine entered the game with three changes to their starting eleven against Saudi Arabia Mohammed Yamin replaced Hani Naboulse while Yousef Al-Ashhab was tasked with providing extra cover in midfield in place of Mahmoud Abuwarda. The other change saw Oday Kharoub make way for the speedier Mohammed Abu Asfour.
Full Highlights and more after the jump...