Palestine eye 'historic' win to keep Asian Cup hopes alive

AFP , Monday 22 Jan 2024

Forward Tamer Seyam and his teammates "want to make a historic achievement for Palestine" when they face Hong Kong on Tuesday at the Asian Cup, where a first win ever at the tournament could propel them into the next round.

Tamer Seyam
Palestine s midfielder #09 Tamer Seyam shoots a penalty kick during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup Group C football match between Palestine and United Arab Emirates at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on January 18, 2024. AFP


No side has played more Asian Cup matches without a win than Hong Kong (12 games) or Palestine (eight), but one victory could be enough for either side to squeak into the last 16 in Qatar.

Having weathered tough early fixtures against Iran and United Arab Emirates in Group C, both sides see an opportunity for a maiden win.

The tournament comes against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, and Seyam said a victory would have special resonance for people back home.

"Our match against Hong Kong won't be easy but we are well prepared and we want to make a historic achievement for Palestine," said the player, who scored in his side's 4-1 opening loss to Iran.

"If we are able to qualify our names will go into history."

"We have big hopes of qualifying as third or second," he said.

Coach Makram Daboub voiced qualified optimism that his side could come out on top against the team from southern China, who are yet to register a point in Qatar.

"I trust the players, if we play with the same level as against UAE, we will be able to win," he said.

Palestine took one point from that match, a thrilling 1-1 draw with 10-man UAE.

Daboub added that the team wanted to win for the "Palestinian people, who deserve to be happy".

"All the players are determined to win," he said.

"Hopefully we will be able to score early and ensure the three points."

His opposite number Jorn Andersen said Hong Kong were unfazed by facing an opponent with extra motivation beyond the football field, noting that his players too could make history for their team.

"I'm not thinking about what Palestine is thinking," he said.

"I think if we have the possibility tomorrow to go to the final round, be one of the 16 best teams in Asia, all Hong Kong will be proud of us and all the players know that.

"They will give everything for Hong Kong."

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