Palestine to host its first World Cup qualifier

AP, Wednesday 30 Mar 2011

Palestine will host a World Cup qualifier for the first time after drawing Afghanistan in the opening round of Asian matches for Brazil 2014


The game is scheduled for Ramallah on 3 July, four days after the first leg in Afghanistan.

Palestine was eliminated four years ago when it could not fulfill an away leg in Singapore because of Israeli travel restrictions.

Four-time qualifier Saudi Arabia was pitted against Hong Kong. The Saudis missed a fifth consecutive finals appearance at the 2010 World Cup after losing a playoff to Bahrain.

Iran, which has competed in the World Cup on three occasions, faces the Maldives, which it defeated 26-0 over two legs in 1998 qualifiers.

Forty three teams will compete for Asia’s four automatic slots in Brazil, plus an intercontinental playoff place.

In the first round, the 16 lowest-ranked teams play eight home-and-away matches on 29 June and 3 July.

The winners join 22 higher-ranked teams in the second round in July.

Those 15 winners then join Japan, South Korea, Australia, North Korea and Bahrain in a group stage.

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