The ‘Match for Hope’ between Malaysia and Palestine may well be a good natured friendly, but both managers have made it clear that they want their team to pick up a precious win
Abu Saleh - Dheeb - Mahdi
Nu'Man - Abu Jazar - Yousef - Ismail - Zatara
In football it’s rarely the case that results don’t matter, but tonight’s ‘Match for Hope’ may provide the exception to the rule. The proceeds from tonight’s friendly between the Malayan Tigers and the the Knights of Palestine will go to the Palestinian People Relief Fund and the National Heroes Fund Lahad Datu in a tremendous example of how football can have a positive impact on the world. However despite the mutual friendship that exists between the two countries, both Malaysia manager Datuk K. Rajagopal and Palestine manager Jamal Mahmoud are desperately seeking morale boosting wins for their nations.
Malaysia snapped their four-game losing streak with a dominant 2-1 win over Yemen to reignite their Asian Cup qualifying campaign last Friday, and they will be keen not to lose any of the momentum with a poor showing here. But Rajagopal will certainly be forced into a reshuffle of his plans with squad members Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Helmi Remeli, Badhri Radzi, Shakir Shaari, Wan Zack Haikal and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha all being called back to their respective clubs.
Despite the players who are unavailable to him, Rajagopal is still confident that replacement players will have enough to put up a good fight. At a pre-match conference in Kuantan he stated: "This is a fund raising game but we will not take it easy. I am confident that we will chalk up another win. I expect Farizal Marlias, Gopinathan A/L Ramachandra and Abdul Hadi Bin Yahya to come into the team in place of Fahmi, Wan Zack and Norshahrul, but with 21 players to select from it would be no surprise to see the Malaysian boss go back to his tinkering ways, which we have seen in several friendlies of the past.
As for the opposition, despite the numerous difficulties they have to overcome domestically, they are still a force to be reckoned with on the international scene. The relative calm of the West Bank has allowed for a steady West Bank Premier League from which to select players and the appointment of well-respected local coach Jamal Mahmoud, in November 2011, has also had a positive impact on the team. Under his stewardship they have been semi-finalists in the 2011 Pan Arab Games and the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup, despite frequently being unable to call on a number of players due to visa issues and club commitments.
Mahmoud again had to deal with travel issues and club commitments for this trip as Alaa Attieh, Fadi Jaber, Houssam Wadi, Abdelatif Bahdari and Daniel Mustafá, all originally named in his squad, were unable to travel.
There were questions as to whether the Jordanian based duo Ashraf Nu'man and Khader Youssef would have to return back to their club Al-Faysali, however they have remained with the team for this match. Despite the unfamiliar nature of the squad, Mahmoud has stated that he is "banking on the new faces to deliver the goods" and that they "are hoping to secure a win."
The match will take place at the Stadium Darul Makmur, Kuantan, Pahang and will kick off at 8:45pm.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Key Malaysian player Wan Zack Haikal (pictured) is unavailable for this fixture as he is travelling to Japan to begin his J-League career with Division Three side Ryukyu FC.
The Palestinian Football Federation was founded in 1928, but the first time the national team were recognized by FIFA was in 1998.
Bethlehem born Ashraf Nu'man, scorer in Palestine’s recent 2-1 defeat to Kuwait, is now third on Palestine's all-time top scorer's list with eight goals.
The last time these two teams met was in 2001 with Malaysia recording a 4-3 victory.
In the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Palestine didn’t concede a goal in the group stages, recording clean sheets against Nepal, Maldives and Turkmenistan.