Sunday, May 20, 2007

Middle East Deathbowl XXII - Excitement Builds

Summer's here, and that can only mean one thing - the play-offs for Middle East Deathbowl XXII, season 2007/8.

Interest in the competition has reached fever pitch in America and Europe, where fans can barely contain their enthusiasm for this fierce contest. It's a sensational rags to riches story - from what was relatively obscure backwater twenty years ago, the ME Division has become the world's premier competition with millions of devoted fans worldwide.

With the pre-season unfriendlies well under way, it's difficult to predict how this year's title race will pan out. The evidence indicates another year of white-knuckle action, with relative newcomers Hamas and Hezbollah vowing to compete with established outfits Fatah, Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

Even at this early stage, there's only one question on the fans' lips - can the teams possibly top the gripping drama of last year's classic Israel v Lebanon tie?

Israel fans are confident that this will be their year. Following the team's bold attacking in away ties against Lebanon and Hamas last season, their support will be hopeful that they can carry that form into the new campaign and end the profligacy which saw so many good shooting opportunities blasted into the crowd.

Indeed, insiders are already saying that this season may be a straight head-to-head between Israel and ME Division dark horses Hezbollah, whose shoot-on-sight tactics and attacks from long range were last year's big surprise.

Supporters of the Palestinian sides will be less optimistic, but they must feel that sooner or later their teams' counter-attacking style will yield results. While their decision to deploy female strikers has been controversial, both Hamas and Fatah are capable of devastating over-confident opponents and their commitment and self-belief are second to none.

It looks like another difficult season for perennial also-rans Lebanon and Syria, however, who are surely long shots for the title. In all likelihood, their campaigns will be characterised by shoddy defending against the superior firepower of the Division's big guns. For these battling underdogs, this year will be a constant battle to keep themselves afloat.

However the competition pans out, one thing is certain - every result will be pored over and every refereeing decision will be scrutinised by millions of avid fans worldwide, and their fanatical support will ensure that this contest will run and run.

With the ME Division generating so much interest in fans from Los Angeles to London, this engrossing competition will go from strength to strength - the huge influx of money and goodwill from supporters pouring in from all corners of the globe have secured the future of the Middle East Deathbowl for at least the next thirty years.

Here's hoping for another thrilling year to match the high drama of season 2006/7!

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