Sharjah: Syria were left lamenting missed opportunities as 10-man Palestine denied them of full points in their Group B encounter of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup late on Sunday.
Intent, and the more aggressive of the two, Syria tried everything for a goal, only to be denied by Palestine, who were reduced to 10 following a second yellow for Mohammad Saleh in the 69th minute. Syria’s German coach Bernd Stange had no answers and very little explanation at the end of the match.
“I am not happy with the draw,” he said. “We didn’t bring the result and the three points we wanted, and I can’t blame any of my players for it even though we had a handful of chances to score. We did everything possible to win today, but somehow Palestine remained strong while defending.
“That’s football for you, and that’s why it is the greatest sport in the world. I am here to win games and the next one against Jordan is the most important one for us now. We have to go out and look for those three points with the hope that we will do everything better.”
Jordan are top of Group B following their stunning 1-0 win over defending champions Australia, while Syria and Palestine occupy the next two spots with a point each. A bulk of Syria’s scoring chances came early in the match with 24-year-old Omar Kharbin a real threat. However, led by skipper Abdul Latif Al Bahdari the Palestinians just managed to hang in and earn their first ever point in only their second appearance of the AFC Asian Cup.
“Any team will find it tough to score when you have nine players defending,” Stange added. “Palestine were compact and didn’t lose their concentration even once. We tried to use the wings and open them up, but they were simply too good. They were so organised that it felt like running into a wall.
“It is very, very difficult to play these kinds of teams. Our players are disappointed and I won’t blame any of them. It is now time to look ahead for our match against Jordan [on January 10].”
Palestine’s Algerian coach Noureddine Ould Ali was ambitious after earning their first point in this competition. “We could work on some of the things that we fell short today. We were one player less and perhaps that led to us not performing the way we would have wanted to,” Ali said.
“This is a historical point for us in the Asian Cup and I think we were the real men on the field today. We stayed strong and didn’t lose our focus even for a second. There are still some small things that we need to attend to and we will do so in the next three days and get better as a team.”