Messages from behind the fence to the stars of the Palestinian national team

Doha (AFP) – Striker Uday Al-Dabbagh did not disappoint the child Abdul Rahman, from the city of Khan Yunis in Gaza, when he scored two goals and led the Palestinian national team to an unprecedented achievement, by qualifying for the first time in his third participation in the knockout rounds of the Asian Football Cup on Tuesday.

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From the stands of Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Al-Dabbagh did not hesitate to respond to the eleven-year-old’s call, which asked him to score goals against Hong Kong “so that the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza can rejoice,” by reaching the eighth final of the continental championship.

Early, Abdul Rahman arrived with his father, Muhammad Zorob, an administrator in one of the ministries in Qatar. He made sure to sit behind the “Fedayeen” substitutes’ benches and wear a white shirt with a keffiyeh drawn on it and the word “Palestine” hanging over it. He also seemed confident from the beginning in the ability of the Belgian Charleroi player, his favorite star. “Uday will score and the team will qualify… and then we will win the Asian Cup.”

Between halftime of the match, while his father, who had wrapped himself in the Palestinian flag, was eating the ball, Abdul Rahman, who was born in Doha, heaped praise on Uday, and told Agence France-Presse, “…By God, he is an artist. God willing, how he put the ball in his head.”

The Palestinian team, participating for the third time in a row in the Asian Cup, ended the first half ahead with an early goal by Al-Dabbagh, before Zaid Qanbar and Al-Dabbagh himself added the second and third goals in succession.

While Abdul Rahman, who said he was following the events in Khan Yunis, which the Israeli forces announced had encircled it and where fighting had been concentrated for weeks, sent a message to Al-Dabbagh stating that winning the Asian Cup meant that “the players had achieved a great achievement in their lives,” Uday reflected on his fan’s words, stressing that “The team dedicates the victory in the first place to this people who deserve joy.”

A war broke out in the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian Hamas movement launched an unprecedented attack in Israel on October 7, killing 1,140 people in the Hebrew state, most of them civilians, according to an Agence France-Presse count based on official figures. In response to the attack, Israel pledged to eliminate the movement, and has since carried out a devastating bombing campaign followed by ground operations, resulting in 25,700 deaths, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas government’s Ministry of Health.

“The duo means a lot to me.”

Uday (12 goals and 32 international matches) said, “The double means a lot to me in my career, the first goal in my career in the Asian Cup, and thank God I was able to help my team after the ball struggled against me a lot in the previous match,” which ended in a 1-1 draw with the Emirates.

Al-Dabbagh, a professional in Belgium since last year, coming from Arauca, Portugal, alone, did not receive the attention of the Palestinian fans, who filled the stands and chanted the song “I Write Your Name, My Country,” as his colleague Muhammad Bassem Rashid (28 years old) received a share of emotional messages, admiring his career with the club. Indonesian club Bali United.

Al-Dabbagh scored two goals for Palestine during the clear victory over Hong Kong © Giuseppe Cacacci/AFP

While the pro-Palestine crowds chanted strongly, journalist Ko Ji, from Hong Kong, noted, “I understand the feelings of the Arab masses for Palestine because of what is happening in Gaza.”

She told Agence France-Presse before the start of the match, “I will not be sad if Palestine qualifies, but I will be sad if Hong Kong qualifies. Football is widely followed in our country.”

The award is for the children of Gaza

In turn, the child Masoud Al-Hassan (10 years old) linked Rashid’s brilliance to the ability of “Al-Fedayi” to advance in the tournament, “I hope they play well until they qualify, so they can get money and donate it to the children of Gaza.”

Masoud, a native of Haifa and also born in Doha, did not hesitate to choose Rashid as his favorite player. “He plays in a distinctive way, and he is one of the best players.”

Without hesitation, his friend Zaid Basalat (12 years old), from the city of Nablus, supported him. “Rashid is my favorite player as well. I hope that the team wins the Asian Cup, and that we defeat Israel in the Gaza war.”

While the fence between Masoud and Zaid, and their favorite player, the player who is the fulcrum of the Palestinian national team did not miss the opportunity to respond to his fans upon hearing what they said, “Let them take the money from Hessa (now), all of it as a sacrifice for Palestine. I hope that their support for the national team will continue, and that they will attend the match.” “The next one.” Palestine will play in the next round with Australia, the 2015 champion, or Qatar, the host and title holder.

Rashid (28 years old), from the city of Ramallah, confirmed that the team accomplished the first mission. “We look forward to continuing the journey, and victory brings another victory, as well as joy.”

Rashid, who lost a friend in Gaza during the war, concluded that professionalism in Indonesia contributed greatly to the development of his level. “It helped me a lot, and changed my outlook on football and on life as well.”

He continues, “The Indonesian people love Palestine as much as its people do.”

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