The Football AFC Asian Cup 2019, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, kicked off on Saturday with 24 teams competing in the group phase, the largest staging of the tournament.
Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain, and Sharjah will host all 36 matches of this phase, from January 5 to 17.
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 6, 2019
This is the second time Palestine has taken part in the Asian Cup.
Palestine first qualified for the Asian Cup in 2015 but went home pointless after scoring only one goal and conceding 11.
This time, the Palestinian national team is bolstered by four players born in Chile: Alexis Norambuena, Yashir Islame Pinto, Jonathan Cantillana and Pablo Tamburrini. Daniel Mustafa, born in Argentina, also joins the team.
Gazan football fans optimistic as Palestine wins historic first point in Asian cup https://t.co/UbQEwNONqU
— Joe Catron 🌹 (@jncatron) January 7, 2019
Around six million Palestinians live outside of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, where the other 5 million live.
Alexis Norambuena, a 34-year-old defender, born in Santiago, said:
“Football is a means to give people joy, to represent them in this cup, which is important for the country.”
After playing Syria, Palestine, coached by Argelian Nourredine Ould Ali, will play Jordan and Australia.
AFC ASIAN CUP 2019 [LIVE]
Syria vs Palestine
OFF: 17 Pablo Bravo
ON: 21 Alexis Norambuena
— VWN Portsmouth (@VWNControlDesk) January 6, 2019
Player Sameh Sheikha told AFP.
“The team represents a country at a time when we still live under an occupation.”
According to Palestinian officials, calling on players with dual nationality is a way to evade the restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinians’ freedom of movement.
(TeleSur, PC, Social Media)