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Confidence is key for Palestine

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Jiangyin: AFC U23 Championship debutants Palestine may have suffered a narrow 1-0 loss to Japan in their Group B opener on Wednesday, but Elkayed Mohammed and Mohammed Rashid believe the team gained confidence despite the defeat. 

Palestine began the match more patient of the two teams and after conceding a goal in the 20th minute, began to play more aggressively, with Mohammed admitting the team lacked confidence in front of the goalmouth

“It was a tough game, in the first half we were a bit shaky, a bit nervous but after the goal we gained confidence and started taking it man to man,” said the 20-year-old defender, who plays for Swedish Football Division 2 side KSF Prespa Birlik.

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“In the second half things got better, we had more chances. After the game, we gained confidence as a team and we can build on that to take to the next two games.

“But overall I think we did good and have a good chance to move into the next round with the next two games.”

He further elaborated that head coach Ayman Sandouqa urged the team at half-time to come out of their shell and play with tenacity.

“He told us to have confidence. Seize the opportunities, do good and to believe in ourselves.

“We did, and as you saw, we played as a team and we showed that we can do what they (Japan) do.”

Sandouqa’s rally galvanised the team and although Palestine came out of the match having suffered a setback in their campaign, Rashid believes the match served as a confidence booster and gave the players much needed experience.

“After our second half performance, the coach gained more confidence in us and the players also gained more confidence,” said Rashid, who plays in the United States for the University of St. Francis.

“Japan are an amazing team, I have yet to play against a team that move the ball this way.

“They were very confident with each other, and had the techniques and tactics. They were well organised and playing against a team like that is a pleasure.”

“So right now, what we are looking forward to is to do our best and do better in the next two games to advance to the next round.”

On Saturday, Palestine meet DPR Korea, who beat Thailand 1-0 in the day’s earlier match, and Elkayed now understands the importance of self-confidence.

“I saw the game against Thailand. They are quick and fast. We just have to go in and believe in ourselves, and give a hundred percent which I think will turn out well for us.”