- Author, Marwa Helmy
- Role, BBC – Cairo
The Palestinian national football team qualified for the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup for the first time in its career, with a “historic” victory over the Hong Kong national team by three unanswered goals, at a time when Gaza is suffering from an ongoing war since the seventh of last October.
This victory came at the conclusion of the third group competitions in the tournament, which witnessed Iran defeating the UAE by two goals to one in the match that was held on Tuesday.
The Palestine team, known as the “Guardian,” reached this round among the four best teams that came in third place, as it came third in its group, which Iran topped with a full mark, while the UAE ranked second with four points on goal difference from the Palestine team.
Uday Al-Dabbagh took the initiative to score for the “Guardian” team in the twelfth minute, and Zaid Qanbar added the second goal (in the 48th minute), while Al-Dabbagh completed the hat-trick in the 60th minute.
It is noteworthy that this is the first victory achieved by the Palestine national team over the course of its three participations in the Asian Cup finals in the 2015, 2019 and current editions, as its previous matches ended in defeat or a draw.
Palestine began its campaign in this edition of the Asian Cup by defeating Iran by four goals to one, then tied with the UAE with one goal each.
The Palestinian players and their coach, Makram Daboub, aspire to go far in the Asian Cup, hoping to bring some “hope and joy” to the Palestinian people who are suffering due to the war in Gaza.
“A message of survival”
The Palestine national team played against Hong Kong with great motivation and a great desire to win, which was evident in its continuous attempts to score goals, according to what sports analyst Muhammad Awad said in statements to BBC Arabic.
Awad believes that the conditions in Gaza push Palestinian players to give their best, noting that “the Palestine national team is the only one that carries a message in addition to its football message: a message of survival,” according to him.
He also highlighted the importance of the team achieving better results in this edition, and the team scoring five goals in the group stage, “which is a large number of goals for a team whose circumstances do not allow it to be at its best.”
Awad added: “The Palestinian national team represents a real existential issue. It is a humanitarian issue that resists and fights even on the football field. Therefore, whenever Palestine advances, this name is repeated.”
Sports journalist Haitham Muhammad believes that the Palestinian players “were able to overcome their difficult circumstances due to the Gaza War and presented a distinguished artistic display, especially on the offensive level, at a time when the circumstances did not help them prepare for this tournament like other teams.”
History of participation in the Asian Cup
The Palestine national team participated in the Asian Cup for the first time in its history in the 2015 edition, and its participation ended with defeat in three matches. It began its journey with a loss at the hands of Japan with a score of four, then was defeated by Jordan by five goals to one, and lost to Iraq by two goals to nothing.
In the 2019 edition, it tied 0-0 against Syria, then lost to Australia 3-0, while it tied without goals against Jordan.
The post first appeared on www.bbc.com