The situation in Palestine is extremely saddening and depressing. The war between Israel and Palestine has been grabbing the headlines and the war-torn nation has little happiness in their lives.
But football has emerged out as a major source of happiness for the Palestinians in the last few weeks. Palestine qualified to the Round of 16 of the ongoing AFC Asian Cup 2023, defying all odds and is a perfect example of the never-say-die attitude.
Even though Palestine lost to hosts Qatar 1-2 in the Round of 16, they should be extremely proud of their exemplary performances in this football competition of Asia. After getting hammered by Iran 1-4 in their opening game, Makram Daboub and co. staged a terrific comeback and gathered 4 points in their next 2 matches.
They first had a 1-1 draw against United Arab Emirates (UAE). Bader Abaelaziz of UAE had netted an own goal, that resulted in a draw after a goal from Sultan Adiil Alamiri.
In their next group-stage encounter, they steamrolled past Hong Kong. The scoreline of the game read 3-0 and Oday Dabbagh had netted a brace in this match at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Zaid Qunbar had scored the other goal for Palestine and this ensured their qualification to the Round of 16. It was an emotional moment for a nation that was grappling with insurmountable problems.
Oday Dabbagh had scored a goal in the Round of 16 as well against Qatar but they failed to win the game. The defending champions of this competition, Qatar, were expected to have a walk in the park against Palestine.
But they faced stiff competition from the Palestinian players and it was an end-to-end battle for supremacy and glory and for qualification to the quarter finals of the ongoing AFC Asian Cup 2023.
The President of the Palestine Football Association, Jibril Rajoub spoke to ALJazeera and highlighted what sports mean to them.
“We, the Palestinian football family, believe that the sport can be a good tool to expose the suffering of the Palestinian people and to highlight their determination and commitment to achieving their goals,” said Jibril Rajoub to ALJazeera.
“The qualification in Asian Cup knockouts is a great achievement. It’s a good message to our people – it gives them hope,” he added.
Notably, the 3-0 win over Hong Kong was Palestine’s first-ever in the history of the AFC Asian Cup 2023. It was indeed a watershed moment for the entire footballing community across the globe.