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Palestinian football team gets a warm presidential welcome

The Palestinian football team is qualifying to next year’s Asian Cup in Australia for the first time after winning AFC Challenge Cup

Published: Updated:

Palestine’s triumphant football team on Sunday received a warm welcome from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who greeted the players in a ceremony in Ramallah.

During the ceremony, Abbas met the team and posed with them for photographs, while holding the much-coveted cup.

On Friday, Palestine’s soccer team won the Asia Challenge Cup in a match against the Philippines, securing its place in the AFC Asia Cup that will be held next year in Australia.

The match is the first victory in an international soccer contest for the Palestinians since the establishment of the Palestine Football Federation in 1928, sport officials said.

In Gaza City, thousands watched the match on large screens on the sandy beach, beating drums. Fireworks lit up the sky as player Ashraf al-Fawaghra scored the winning goal for Palestine with a free kick in the second half.

Senior political leaders were quick to congratulate the team.

At the time, Abbas hailed the victory as an opportunity to increase Palestine’s role in the “sphere of Asian football.”