Palestinian team in next round of WCup qualifiers
The Palestinian team advanced to the next round of Asia’s
preliminary qualifying for the 2014 World Cup after drawing with
Afghanistan 1-1 on Sunday and winning 3-1 overall.
The only one of FIFA’s 208 members which is not a U.N.
recognized state, the Palestinians face Thailand in the second
Palestinian defender Hasam Wadi scored in the 11th minute,
before Balal Arezou grabbed an equalizer in the 63rd for
The Palestinian team defeated Afghanistan 2-0 in the first leg
of their World Cup qualifier, played in Tajikistan because of the
security situation in Afghanistan.
The match was the highest profile soccer game on Palestinian
territory to date.
”This is the most important game ever in Palestine,”
Palestinian Football Federation chief Jibril Rajoub said.
Rajoub is a former Palestinian security chief who spent 17 years
in Israeli prisons. He left politics in 2006 and was appointed head
of the Palestinian Football Federation and Olympic Committee two
The Palestinian team remains a long-shot to make it all the way
to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
Ranked No. 171 in the world by FIFA – just six spots behind
Afghanistan – the Palestinian team needs to make it through the
second preliminary round to be included among the 20 Asian teams
entered in the main draw for World Cup qualifying.
Palestinian athletes need Israeli permits for most travel,
either to cross Israel from Gaza or to enter or leave the West Bank
– a hurdle that has often kept players from key matches.
Israel’s Olympic Committee said it is trying to facilitate
greater movement for Palestinian athletes and Israel’s military
said it began easing restrictions on Palestinian athletes last