The Palestine national football team, controlled by the Palestine Football Association, represents Palestine in association football. The squad is governed by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) continentally and FIFA worldwide. Palestine Football History.
A football federation was founded in Mandatory Palestine in 1928, although it was primarily a team of Jewish residents. While a team for the Arab residents of Palestine played its first match in 1953, the national team was recognized by FIFA in 1998 after the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority. That same year, Palestine played their first FIFA-recognised match after a 3–1 defeat against Lebanon in a friendly match.
The team won the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup thanks to a 1–0 win over the Philippines in the final. Their win in the competition qualified them for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, their first appearance in the competition. Palestine also qualified for the next edition of the Asian Cup in 2019, their first regular qualification. They are yet to qualify for the World Cup.
Palestine National Team
The Palestinian team is known by various nicknames: “Lions of Canaan”, “Fedayeen” and “Knights”. Their main colors are red and white. The team reached the 73rd position in the FIFA rankings in February 2018 after a 12-match unbeaten run from 29 March 2016 to 22 March 2018. Palestine’s main venue is the Faisal Al Husseini International Stadium. – Rama; However, they have been forced to play at neutral stadiums for home matches on several occasions due to political issues.
In May 1995, the PFA was granted provisional member status to FIFA. Palestine finally gained FIFA membership on June 8, 1998, after several attempts since 1946. Led by Ricardo Caroghetti, Palestine played their first official matches in July 1998 in the 1998 Arab Cup qualifiers against Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
The following year, Palestine participated in the 1999 Pan Arab Games held in Jordan. There, they won games against Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, drew with Libya and Syria, while only losing to hosts Jordan. Palestine finished third, their best ever result. In their first Asian Cup qualification, Palestine was draw into a five-team group with Jordan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and Qatar. A lone 2-0 win against Pakistan was not enough to qualify as they lost 1-0 to Qatar, and 5-1 to Jordan before ending the campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Kazakhstan.
Under the management of Mustafa Yaqoob, Palestine was draw into Group C of the 2002 World Cup qualifiers along with Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Qatar. The team finished in a good second position by scoring 8 goals thanks to Imad Ayub who scored four times.
2002 Arab Cup
At the 2002 Arab Cup, Palestine was eliminate at the group stage but managed to draw against group winners Jordan, Kuwait, and Sudan, with their only defeat coming against semi-finalists Morocco. Led by Nikola Hadwa Shahwan, the team was draw with Kuwait, Qatar, and Singapore. Palestine finished last with two points.
After a failed Asian Cup qualifying campaign, the PFA hired Austrian coach Alfred Riedel to lead the team during qualification for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Palestine was include in the group along with Uzbekistan, Iraq, and Chinese Taipei. They won both games against Chinese Taipei, drawing 2–2 with Iraq, but it was not enough for Palestine to advance to the second round as they lost both against Uzbekistan in addition to a 3–0 defeat by Iraq. The matches were lost 3-0.
Palestine participated in the inaugural AFC Challenge Cup held in Bangladesh. They drew with hosts Cambodia and Guam. In the group stage, Palestine recorded their biggest ever win, an 11–0 victory over Guam. Palestine advanced from Group C and faced Kyrgyzstan in the quarter-finals. After a goalless first half, they were beat by a last-half goal. In the summer of 2006, Palestine achieved its highest FIFA ranking at 115, placing it 16th on the Asian continent.
Under the management of Uzmi Nasr, Palestine was draw with the Chinese national football team, Iraq and Singapore during the 2007 Asian Cup qualification. Palestine is at the bottom with 4 points. They got their only win against Singapore 1-0.
In 2008, with the help of FIFA’s Goal Programme, the PFA built the Faisal Al Husseini International Stadium, and on 26 October 2008. Palestine played its first home match since becoming a FIFA member, drawing 1-1 with Jordan in front of a crowd of more than 7,000. Palestine entered the first round of the 2010 World Cup qualification and was eliminate after just one match, which ended 4–0 to Singapore. The second leg was not play as scheduled due to the Palestinian team being prevented from traveling. However, FIFA refused to reschedule the match.
The 2010 AFC Challenge Cup qualifying draw placed Palestine in Group C, alongside Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Nepal. They started the run with a goalless draw against hosts Nepal. The final game ended in a 1–1 draw with Kyrgyzstan, missing out on a chance to qualify on goal difference.
2014 FIFA World Cup
During the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Palestine drew with Afghanistan in the first round. The first leg won 2–0, while the second leg ended in a 1–1 draw. In their first World Cup qualifying match at home on 3 July 2011, Palestine took the lead with a long-range shot by Hossam Wadi. Palestine faced Thailand in the second round. Palestine Football History.
The first match lost 1-0 in Buriram, while Palestine put in a better performance in the second as Murad Illian took an early lead before Thailand hit back before half-time. The second half was more of the same with both teams waiting until the last minute before scoring back-to-back goals. This resulted at the end of Palestine.
Mahmood later led the team to the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. In the run-up, Palestine reached the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup group play semis at the hands of the eventual champions after 2-0 wins over Nepal and the Maldives, as well as a 0-0 draw against Turkmenistan. Finished on the way out of the finals. North Korea. The third place playoff ended with a 4–3 loss to the Philippines.
During the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualification, Palestine was drawn in Group D with Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Northern Mariana Islands. They started with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Bangladesh. The next game ended in a 9–0 loss to the Northern Mariana Islands. Qualifiers ended in a goalless draw against Nepal to book a place in a second consecutive AFC Challenge Cup. Palestine Football History.
Palestine is the most successful team
The team won the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup with only one draw out of 5 matches without scoring a goal. In the opening match, Palestine won against Kyrgyzstan with the last goal of Abdulhamid Abu Habib. In the next group game, they played against Myanmar and won 2–0. The first round ended with a 0-0 draw against hosts Maldives. Palestine Football History.
Palestine qualified for the semi-finals as group winners where they faced Afghanistan. The match ended with a 2-0 win in favor of the Palestinians. In the final, Palestine won against the Philippines thanks to Ashraf Nauman’s lone goal from a free kick. The victory gave the Palestinian team their first major trophy and guaranteed their participation in next year’s AFC Asian Cup. After winning the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup and qualifying for the Asian Cup, Jamal Mahmoud resigned as national team manager, citing differences with the Palestine Football Association. For more details click here