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Palestinian Football Team Aims for Historic Victory Amidst Losses of Loved Ones at Home

Palestinian Soccer Team Is Seeking A Historic Win — While Losing Loved Ones At Home

In the lead-up to the Asian Cup, a significant international soccer tournament, Mohammed Saleh of the Palestinian national soccer team received devastating news. His uncle, aunt, and their children had tragically lost their lives during Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Saleh, distinct from Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Salah, shared the distressing situation with Agence France-Presse in Qatar, expressing that his family faced a dire situation of war.

When Saleh took to the field for his team’s opening match against Iran, he had not heard from his surviving family members in Gaza for several days. Describing their plight, he mentioned that they were living in a tent on open land, as their home in Gaza City had been destroyed. Despite these challenges, Saleh emphasized that the team played for their families, Gaza, and their cause.

Palestinian Football Team Aims for Historic Victory Amidst Losses of Loved Ones at Home

Palestinian Football Team Aims for Historic Victory Amidst Losses of Loved Ones at Home (Credits: Yahoo)

Jibril Rajoub, the President of the Palestinian Football Association, highlighted that Saleh was not the only player who had experienced the loss of family members in Gaza before the tournament. The deaths added extra significance to the competition for the players, with Rajoub stating that the team represented the noblest symbol of their national identity for all Palestinians.

Although the Palestinian team faced a 4-1 defeat in their opening match against Iran, the support from the nearly 28,000 fans in the Qatar stadium was evident. This number roughly matched the Palestinian casualties in Gaza during Israel’s 100-day siege, demonstrating a strong outpouring of support. Notably, even Iranian fans waved Palestinian flags in solidarity.

In the second competition of the tournament, the Palestinian team secured a tie against the United Arab Emirates, thanks to a 49th-minute own goal by an Emirati defender. The stadium echoed with chants of “Free, free Palestine.” This result sets up a crucial match against Hong Kong, and the players aim to advance out of the group stage for the first time in the team’s history.

The players see this potential milestone as a dedication to the 2.2 million people in Gaza, a majority of whom have been displaced, with many on the verge of starvation due to Israel’s actions in the 25-mile strip of land. Oday Kharoub, a midfielder for the Palestinian team, expressed the team’s ambition to make the people of Palestine happy by qualifying for the next round, delivering a message of hope through football.

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