Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Canberra: Coach Ahmed Al Hassan admitted that Palestine may be without hugely experienced captain and goalkeeper Ramzi Saleh in Tuesday’s AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Group D showdown with Iraq at Canberra Stadium, with the possibility of a place in the quarter-finals for the victor depending on results elsewhere.
The most capped player for Palestine at international level with over 100 appearances to his name for his nation, Saleh (pictured, in green shirt) suffered the setback in Monday’s training and his absence would be a blow for the preparations of Al Hassan, after he saw his team lose their Group D opener to holders Japan, and the following fixture against Jordan, by four goal margins.
And the Egypt-based custodian may not be the only change in the starting 11 for the AFC Challenge Cup winners as they look to secure a win that would keep their faint hopes of a quarter-final place alive. Although unlikely, a big victory over Iraq coupled with a comprehensive Japan win over Jordan could still see Palestine through to the knockout stages.
“The goalkeeper, captain Ramzi, might miss the next match because he was injured in yesterday’s training. And we might involve more people who will have the honour of participating for the first time in this championship,” said Al Hassan.
“Of course we know that a team like Iraq is a very powerful and strong team as they are one of the top teams in Asia, and the fact that Iraq really needs [to win] tomorrow’s game plays an important role in the shaping and designing of the match.
“Having seen the advantages and weaknesses of a team like Iraq everything has gone into our preparation, that’s all I can say.”
Despite the two heavy defeats Palestine have suffered so far, Al Hassan believes that the gap between his debutants and the other participants in the continental championship is not as great as the score-lines have suggested.
“In the road to this tournament, we played against teams with FIFA rankings of 150 plus and now we are playing with teams ranked 50 to 60, that’s an important factor,” said Al Hassan, whose side have been on the receiving end of 4-0 and 5-1 losses so far in Australia.
“In our match with Jordan we were very unlucky; the dynamic of the match would have been totally different if we had scored from our chance early on.
“But, in general we don’t think we have a serious issue with our team from a technical point of view. We have just been missing sufficient attention to minor details and that is due to lack of experience at tournament level.
“All I want is for my team on Tuesday is to perform their best, give a very good performance to basically erase the last two matches we've played and to score three points, simple.”