Palestine coach demands 'focus' in pursuit of first Asian Cup win

AFP , Wednesday 17 Jan 2024

Palestine coach Makram Daboub said his players must be "fully focused" against the United Arab Emirates at the Asian Cup on Thursday after defeat to Iran in an emotional opening game.

Palestine s
Palestine s players after their heavy defeat to Iran

Palestine conceded a goal after just 64 seconds on their way to a 4-1 thrashing by the Iranians in Doha, with Daboub admitting that his players were "overexcited".

The match coincided with the 100th day of the Israel-Hamas war, the grim milestone adding extra significance to an occasion that went beyond football.

A brief moment's silence was held before kick-off and Daboub said it had been difficult to control his players' emotions in the opening game.

"In the previous match the focus at the start of the match was not what we intended," he said on Wednesday.

"No coach would want the scenario we had against Iran but the game against UAE is different because we have the same chances and it is important for us to get the three points."

The Palestinian team have been forced to play matches and train overseas in the lead-up to their third Asian Cup.

They have never won a game at the tournament and face a UAE side who beat Hong Kong 3-1 in their opener.

Daboub said taking three points against the UAE was "the key to qualifying" for the knockout stage for the first time in Palestine's history.

"I think we have the same chance as UAE and Hong Kong," said the Tunisian coach.

"Six points are still available but the next game is the most important one."

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