The aspiration to participate in the World Cup takes on a unique dimension for the Palestinian national team. Facing challenges and fears stemming from the Israel-Hamas conflict, the team is gearing up for its debut in the Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, facing Lebanon this Thursday.
The recent conflicts, starting on October 7, have resulted in over 10,000 deaths in the Gaza Strip and tens of thousands of injuries, according to the local Health Ministry. The impact of the war is reflected in football, leading Lebanon to relocate the match to a neutral stadium in the United Arab Emirates due to security concerns. The game will be held behind closed doors.
Coach Makram Daboub expressed pride in representing the Palestinian people, highlighting the honor of leading such a special team. Due to the situation, Palestine will face Australia at a venue in Kuwait after canceling a friendly against Yemen and withdrawing from events in Malaysia.
The team has faced psychological challenges due to the war, with players concerned about family and friends in Palestine. Part of the team managed to leave the territory in October, training in Jordan for the Asian qualifiers debut.
The squad includes 26 players, with 10 playing for Palestinian clubs, and three unable to leave Gaza. Despite the adversities, Coach Daboub emphasized the quality of training, despite the players’ constant anxiety due to the unstable situation in Palestine, where football has been suspended since the conflict began.
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