By Sammy Baroud
The 10th Installment of The FIFA Arab Cup is underway in Qatar. Coming off of a convincing 5-1 win against The Comoros, Palestine (PLE ranked 98 in the world) kicked off their tournament with a game against Morocco on December 1st in the Al Janoub Stadium built for World Cup Qatar 2022.
Even with the absence of Moroccan players Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech, Palestine could not execute in the match against Morocco losing 4-0 to kick off their tournament. However, the match against Saudi Arabia went much better with the opening goal being one for Palestine.
Learn about the third group teams in the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™
— الأخبار الرياضية العالمية 🇸🇦 (@officialS4ALLM7) November 29, 2021
The goal came courtesy of a scorching knuckleball outside of the box by Mohamed Rashid Bassim into the top corner in first-half stoppage time. (45+2’). Rashid’s screamer was truly reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo’s iconic knuckleball goal against Porto in the 2009 Champions League.
Al Fida’i led by a goal to nil for 36 minutes until a stinging Saudi counterattack resulted in Abdullah Al-Hamddan inserting the ball into the back of the net late on in minute 81’ ending the clash at 1-1. Palestine and Saudi Arabia both came out of the Education City Stadium with a point but with Saudi Arabia losing to Jordan in Matchday 1, this opens the door for Palestine to go through to the knockout stage of The FIFA Arab Cup.
— kevin keatings (@_keatings) December 5, 2021
FIFA Arab Cup Group C currently stands as follows:
Group C Matches Played Goal +/- Points
Matchday 3 on December 7 will conclude the Group Stage closing with fixtures between Palestine and Jordan as well as Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Morocco is the strong favorites against Saudi Arabia being the highest-ranked team in the entire tournament ranking at 28th in the world.
Morocco, which has already qualified for the quarter-finals, winning this fixture would leave the 2nd Place qualifying spot down to who comes out on top in the Palestine vs. Jordan Match. Jordan salvaging a point or Saudi Arabia beating Morocco will end Palestine’s tournament but if they can secure a good result today against Jordan, they will have a major chance at appearing in the quarter-finals of the FIFA Arab Cup.
🇵🇸 The flag of Palestine and the Palestinian national peace decorate the opening ceremony of the Arab Cup in Qatar today.#FreePalestine #كأس_العرب_2021 #كأس_العرب #كاس_العرب_FIFA pic.twitter.com/MCM9HG6bQR
— ✌️🇵🇸✌️ Mohammed Najjar (@hamada_pal2020) November 30, 2021
Palestinian Football has enjoyed a particularly good start to the season with Oday Dabbagh becoming the first Palestine International to play in a top European League (Primeira Liga) and having a great run of form in the league with 3 goals and 1 assist in his first 9 appearances for the Portuguese side.
Being one of the most important players against The Comoros, it is unfortunate that he wasn’t able to be on the Arab Cup Roster for the Lions of Canaan due to conflicts with his club schedule that also created the absence of top European players from the competition. (Mohamed Salah, Achraf Hakimi, and Riyad Mahrez to name a few).
Morocco v Palestine | FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 | Match Highlights
@ FIFATV pic.twitter.com/QJzzCcbDnd
— New African Facts (@NewAfricanFacts) December 3, 2021
Despite the absence of Oday Dabbagh and Mahmoud Wadi among others, Palestine’s Arab Cup fate is in their hands. Be sure to tune in as they clash today, Tuesday, with Jordan in the Ras Abu Aboud Stadium at 5 pm Palestine time, 7 am PST or 10 am EST.
– Sammy Baroud is a young Palestinian-American Sports Writer and an aspiring footballer. He contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle.