Chhetri & Co. up for Palestine friendly

For several years the government in India have maintained a good relation with Palestine, but never before, have they shook hands on a football pitch. That much-awaited first time will be at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here when India host Palestine in an international friendly on Wednesday.

Despite the friendly tag, it is a face-saving encounter for India, who are 14 places below Palestine in the Fifa rankings and have just one victory in the last eight international friendlies played since July 2011, including the most recent 0-2 loss to Singapore in October.
Wim Koevermans, the Dutch coach under whose stewardship India completed a hat-trick of Nehru Cup titles, is likely to offer a debut to local boy C.K. Vineeth and the naturalised Pune FC utility player Arata Izumi, who are among the six new entrants to the national side. Dynamic striker and captain Sunil Chhetri, the versatile Syed Rahim Nabi, Clifford Miranda, Nirmal Chhetri and Mehtab Hussain, will bring in wealth of experience to this young India.
Meanwhile, with at least 15 players from their local leagues and without the services of prominent foreign-league players such as Ramzi Saleh, Alexis Norambuena, Daniel Mustafa and Imad Zatara, Palestine have their task cut out.
Abdelatif Al Bahdari who plays with Hajer in Saudi Arabia is likely to wear the captain’s armband, but with a return to the national side after nearly one-and-a-half years, the centre-defender has had little time to gel with his unit.
Midfielder Abdal Rahim Kabiya is a young player regarded in high esteem in Palestine and could form a lethal combination with winger Ashraf Numan. But their main threat is striker Iyad Abu Gharquoud known to possess a quick burst of speed.

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