Palestine national football team
The Palestine national football team (Arabic: منتخب فلسطين لكرة القدم) is the national football team of Palestine and represents Palestine in international football. In the past few years, the Palestinian team has witnessed a remarkable development thanks to coach Jamal Mahmoud and Abdel Nasser Barakat.
|Nickname(s)||أسود كنعان (Lions of Canaan)|
الفدائيون (The Fedayeen)
الفرسان (The Knights)
|Association||Palestinian Football Association|
|Sub-confederation||WAFF (West Asia)|
|Head coach||Noureddine Ould Ali|
|Most caps||Ramzi Saleh (68) |
|Top scorer||Fahed Attal (14)|
|Home stadium||Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium|
|Current||99 1 (4 April 2019)|
|Highest||73 (February–March 2018)|
|Lowest||191 (April–August 1999)|
|Current||107 2 (27 March 2019)|
|Highest||103 (5 September 2017)|
|Lowest||159 (October 2011)|
| Egypt 8–1 Palestine |
(Alexandria, Egypt; 26 July 1953)
| Palestine 11–0 Guam |
(Dhaka, Bangladesh; 1 April 2006)
| Egypt 8–1 Palestine |
(Alexandria, Egypt; 26 July 1953)
Iran 7–0 Palestine
(Tehran, Iran; 5 October 2011)
|Appearances||2 (first in 2015)|
|Best result||Group stage (2015 and 2019)|
A football federation in Mandatory Palestine was founded in 1928. However, a team for a future Arab state to be called Palestine was first recognized by FIFA in 1998, after the creation of the Palestinian National Authority. Palestine has yet to qualify for the World Cup. They first qualified for the Asian Cup in May 2014, after beating the Philippines 1–0 in the AFC Challenge Cup final. At the finals in Australia, they were eliminated in the group stage.
The team reached an all-time high position of 73rd in the FIFA ranking in February 2018 after not losing any game since early 2016. Palestine's first title was the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup. The country also qualified for the 2019 Asian Cup.
Following their readmission by FIFA, the team played no official fixtures in the Palestinian territories due to security concerns until a match on 26 October 2008 against Jordan in the newly renovated Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in Al-Ram north of Jerusalem, which finished in a 1–1 draw. In recognition of their efforts the Palestinian Football Federation was awarded FIFA's inaugural Development Award and AFC National Team of the Year.
Football appeared in Palestine in the beginning of the 19th century. The national team played its first competition in the 1953 Pan Arab Games in Alexandria, followed by many other appearances in the Pan Arab Games and also in other competitions such as the Palestine Cup of Nations and the Arab Nations Cup.
Palestine applied to, and was admitted into FIFA in 1998. They played their first friendly matches against Lebanon, Jordan and Syria in July 1998. The following year, the team, led by Israeli-Arab coach Azmi Nasser took part in the 1999 Pan Arab Games, in which they won the bronze medal after beating Syria, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, while only losing to hosts Jordan.
In 2002, the PFA hired Nicola Hadwa Shahwan as manager. Shahwan, who was born in Beit Jala, grew up in Chile and had many connections among Santiago's Palestinian community, whence he brought Roberto Bishara, Roberto Kettlun, Edgardo Abdala, Francisco Atura and the Argentine-born Pablo Abdala into the squad. These players made their debuts in the 2002 Arab Nations Cup. The team exited in the group stage but managed draws against group winners Jordan, hosts Kuwait, and Sudan, with their only loss coming against eventual semi-finalists Morocco.
After an unsuccessful Asian Cup qualifying campaign, the PFA hired Austrian coach Alfred Riedl to lead the team in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifications. Palestine were drawn in a group alongside Uzbekistan, Iraq and Chinese Taipei. In their first match, Palestine recorded an historic 8–0 win against the Taiwanese; two months later a 1–1 draw against Iraq put Palestine in first place in the group. Palestine were drawn in a group in Asian Cup qualifying for the 2007 tournament alongside 2004 finalists China, eventual winners Iraq, and Singapore. Palestine still had a chance of qualifying until the penultimate round, after a 1–0 win against Singapore and a 2–2 draw against Iraq. Palestine was invited to participate in the inaugural Challenge Cup in Bangladesh, where they beat Guam 11–0, Cambodia 4–0 and drew with Bangladesh to top their group and reach the quarterfinal, where they were beaten 1–0 by Kyrgyzstan. In the summer of 2006, Palestine achieved its highest ever FIFA ranking at 115, placing them 16th in the Asian continent. The team remained without a manager for most of 2007 and preparations for World Cup Qualifying were severely lacking. Palestine lost the first leg of a two-legged play-off against Singapore 0–4 and could not play the return leg as a result of Israeli travel restrictions.
In 2008, with the assistance of FIFA's Goal program, Jibril Rajoub, head of the PFA had the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium built, and on 26 October 2008 Palestine held a match on home soil for the first time since becoming a member of FIFA, a 1–1 draw with Jordan in front of a crowd in excess of 7,000. Palestine received the inaugural FIFA Development Award in recognition of the achievement.
Two and a half years later, in March 2011, Palestine played its first ever competitive home game. The game, at the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium, was the second leg of a qualifier for the 2012 Olympic Games, against Thailand. Thailand had won the first leg 1–0 in Bangkok; Palestine won the second 1–0 with a goal by Abdelhamid Abuhabib in the 43rd minute. The draw on aggregate led to a penalty shootout, where Palestine lost by 5–6. However, as Thailand was ordered to forfeit the first match because of fielding an ineligible player, Palestine replaced Thailand to play Bahrain next. In the next round against Bahrain, although Palestine won the first leg at Bahrain National Stadium by 1–0, they lost the return leg by 1–2 and eliminated by away goals rule.
The team beat Afghanistan 3–1 on aggregate (2–0 away, 1–1 home) in the first round of AFC qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. They faced Thailand in the second round, with an away match on 23 July 2011 in Buriram, and a home match on 28 July at Al-Ram. Palestine lost the away leg 1–0, with back-up goalkeeper Mohammed Shbair saving a penalty in the dying moments of the match to keep the tie alive. Palestine took a 1–0 lead in the 6th minute of the return leg through a Murad Alyan goal but conceded 10 minutes before halftime, meaning they would have to win by two clear goals in order to advance. Palestine took a 2–1 lead late in the second half but had a man sent off and conceded a goal whilst desperately searching for a winner. They were eliminated from AFC qualification on an aggregate score of 2–3, if the Asian Football Confederation elects to keep the same qualifying format for the 2018 FIFA World Cup they will be ranked 21st and receive a 1st round bye.
The PFA elected not to renew Moussa Bezaz's contract after the team failed to advance to the Third Round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Former Al-Wehdat player and manager Jamal Mahmoud was announced as the national team manager in November 2011 after two disastrous friendlies without a permanent manager saw the team lose 4–1 and 7–0 to Indonesia and Iran, respectively. His first official match was a friendly against Bahrain in Manama which Palestine won 1–0 courtesy of Ali El-Khatib's first international goal. Palestine lost its first game at the 2011 Pan Arab Games to Jordan but recovered well in their following group games. Earning a well-deserved 1–1 draw and a 2–0 win over 2012 African Cup of Nations finalists Libya and Sudan to advance to the semifinals of the competition. The team eventually exited the competition against eventual champions Bahrain under dubious circumstances when the Bahrainis were awarded a phantom goal in the second half to make the score 3–1.
Mahmoud led the team three months later at the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. In the run up to the competition, Palestine made history by playing and defeating its first UEFA opponent, Azerbaijan, 2–0. Preparation for the competition was less than ideal with Abdelatif Bahdari, Roberto Bishara, Omar Jarun, Majed Abusidu, Ali El-Khatib, and Imad Zatara unavailable due to club commitments and having Raed Fares, Haitham Theeb, Ismail Amour, Mohammed Al-Masri, Rafit Eyad and Murad Alyan out with injury. Palestine finished group play at the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup without conceding a goal after 2–0 wins over Nepal and Maldives along with a 0–0 draw against Turkmenistan en route to a semifinal exit at the hands of eventual champions Korea DPR.
In 2013, they secured a second straight AFC Challenge Cup berth, qualifying for the 2014 edition by topping Group D with 7 points, ahead of Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The team ended up winning the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup without conceding a goal and drawing just one out of five games. The win brought the Palestine team their first major trophy and assured them of participation in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, also their first ever. In the run-up to qualifying they scored 16 goals, won six games and drew twice, while putting together eight straight clean sheets. Ashraf Nu'man was crowned top scorer of the finals tournament having scored the winning goal in the final against Philippines and three additional goals in the runner up. Midfielder Murad Ismail was recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Shortly following their 2014 AFC Challenge Cup triumph and qualification 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualification, Jamal Mahmoud resigned as national team manager citing irreconcilable differences with the Palestine Football Association. Jamal Mahmoud left the post as the most successful manager in national team history by a number of metrics. He led the team to an all-time high rank of 85 in the FIFA Rankings, won 14 of his 34 games, registered a 41% win percentage and a points-per-game rate of 1.41.
Palestine were placed in Group D at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup alongside Japan, Jordan and Iraq which lost all three group matches. They were defeated 0–4 by Japan, lost 1–5 to Jordan and finished their campaign with a 0–2 loss to Iraq.
Following the disastrous showing at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup the PFA appointed Olympic Team manager Abdel-Nasser Barakat as national team manager who moved to overhaul the squad choosing not to call up Ramzi Saleh, Hussam Abu Saleh, Ismail Al-Amour, Raed Fares, Murad Ismail Said, and Mousa Abu-Jazar all of whom had been part of the national team at the last Asian Cup Finals. Barakat led a search for a number of players eligible to represent Palestine in South America and Europe. In his first game in charge debutants Pablo Tamburrini and Matias Jadue scored in a narrow 3–2 loss to Saudi Arabia in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification.
Palestine registered a pair of famous 6–0 wins over Malaysia during the course of World Cup qualifying. Those results combined with valiant 0–0 draws at home to Saudi Arabia and UAE kept Palestine in the hunt for qualification to the Third Round of Asian World Cup qualification until the penultimate match day. They were eliminated from 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification following a 2–0 loss away to UAE on 24 March 2016. They won their final 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification match at home five days later 7–0. This game marked the debuts of Ahmed Awad and Yashir Pinto with the national team. It also marked the first time Palestine won a game on home soil since readmission to FIFA following draws against Jordan, Afghanistan, Thailand, and UAE.
Home matches in Palestine (Official)Edit
Win Draw Loss
Problems relating to the Israeli–Palestinian conflictEdit
The Palestinian Football Federation faces problems in training and playing due to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Because of travel restrictions placed by Israel upon people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the difficulty in obtaining an exit visa from Israel, many players in the team are drawn from the Palestinian diaspora, from as far away as Chile and the United States. Recently, Israel's refusal to issue exit visas has resulted in players, or in some case the entire team, being unable to represent the territories. In November 2006 (the last match of 2007 AFC Asian Cup qualification group stage is scheduled), all players based inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip were denied exit visas. The AFC cancelled the match since both teams had been eliminated from the competition by virtue of their previous results against China and Iraq. A film, Goal Dreams, was made about the team attempting to overcome obstacles in the qualification for the 2006 World Cup, who were also featured on the BBC documentary series Frontline Football.
In October 2007, the second leg of a crucial 2010 World Cup qualifier between Palestine and Singapore was not played due to Palestine's inability to obtain exit visas. The AFC and FIFA decided not to reschedule the match despite protests from the PFA, and Singapore was awarded a 3–0 win in a walkover match. In May 2008, the team was not allowed to travel to the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup. After a 2011 World Cup qualifier against Thailand, two starters, Mohammed Samara and Majed Abusidu, were refused entry to the West Bank and therefore could not travel back with the team from Thailand.
Striker Ziyad Al-Kord was banned from traveling and had his house destroyed. Tariq al Quto was killed by the Israel Defense Forces, and during the Operation Cast Lead three Palestinian footballers, Ayman Alkurd, Shadi Sbakhe and Wajeh Moshtahe, were among the Palestinian casualties.
Mahmoud Sarsak was administratively detained by Israel in July 2009 for being a member of Islamic Jihad; following a hunger strike and international pressure on his behalf from FIFA President Sepp Blatter, he was released in July 2012. In 2012, Olympic Team goalkeeper Omar Abu Ruways was arrested by Israel for being a member of a terrorist cell.
Sameh Maraaba was arrested in April after returning with his team from training in Qatar. The Shin Bet accused Maraaba of exploiting his status as a Palestinian football player to act as a courier for Hamas.  Shin Bet released a statement in which it was contended that Maraaba admitted that, before he left for Qatar, he met a senior Hamas operative in Kalkilya, asked him to meet an operative from Hamas' military wing in Qatar and received money, a cellphone and written messages which he brought back to Hamas operatives in Kalkilya. 
The team's former goalkeeper Abu Rwayyis was arrested in connection with an attack on IDF soldiers in April 2012.
FIFA World CupEdit
|FIFA World Cup record||FIFA World Cup qualification record|
|1930 to 1998||Not a FIFA member||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|2002||Did not qualify||6||2||1||3||8||9|
|2022||To be determined||To be determined|
|Olympic Games record||Qualifications record|
|1900 to 2000||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|2004||Did not qualify||4||2||1||1||5||4|
|2020||To be determined||To be determined|
AFC Asian CupEdit
|AFC Asian Cup Record||AFC Asian Cup qualification|
|1956||Did not enter||Did not enter|
|2000||Did not qualify||4||1||0||3||3||8|
|2023||To be determined|
- *Denotes draws include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
- Football at the Asian Games has been an under-23 tournament since 2002.
|Asian Games record|
|2002–present||See Palestine national under-23 football team|
AFC Challenge CupEdit
|AFC Challenge Cup record||Qualifications record|
|2010||Did not qualify||2||0||2||0||1||1|
|WAFF Championship Finals|
West Asian GamesEdit
|West Asian Games|
|1997||Did not enter|
Arab Nations CupEdit
|Arab Nations Cup|
|1963||Did not enter|
|1985||Did not enter|
|1998||Did not qualify|
Pan Arab GamesEdit
|Pan Arab Games|
|1957||Did not enter|
|1961||Did not enter|
|1985||Did not enter|
|2007||Did not enter|
Recent results and fixturesEdit
|4 October 2018 2018 Bangabandhu Cup||Tajikistan||0–2||Palestine||Sylhet, Bangladesh|
|18:30 UTC+6||Report||Stadium: Sylhet District Stadium|
Referee: Mizanur Rahman (Bangladesh)
|6 October 2018 2018 Bangabandhu Cup||Palestine||1–0||Nepal||Sylhet, Bangladesh|
||Report||Stadium: Sylhet District Stadium|
Referee: Mohammed Jalal Uddin (Bangladesh)
|10 October 2018 2018 Bangabandhu Cup||Palestine||2–0||Bangladesh||Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh|
|14:30 UTC+6||Report||Stadium: Cox's Bazar Stadium|
Referee: Zaid Thamer Mohammed (Iraq)
|12 October 2018 2018 Bangabandhu Cup||Tajikistan||0–0 (a.e.t.)|
|17:30 UTC+6||Report||Stadium: Bangabandhu National Stadium|
Referee: Mizanur Rahman (Bangladesh)
|16 November 2018 Friendly||Palestine||2–1||Pakistan||Al-Ram, Palestine|
||Stadium: Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium|
Referee: Imad Al-Bouji (Palestine)
|20 November 2018 Friendly||China PR||1–1||Palestine||Haikou, China|
||Stadium: Wuyuan River Stadium|
Referee: Hettikamkanamge Perera (Sri Lanka)
|16 December 2018 Friendly||Pakistan||0–2||Palestine||Doha, Qatar|
|18:00 UTC+3||Stadium: Grand Hamad Stadium|
|24 December 2018 Friendly||Palestine||1–1||Iran||Doha, Qatar|
||Stadium: Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium|
Referee: Wathik Mohammed (Iraq)
|28 December 2018 Friendly||Iraq||1–0||Palestine||Doha, Qatar|
||Report||Stadium: Suheim bin Hamad Stadium|
|31 December 2018 Friendly||Kyrgyzstan||2–1||Palestine||Doha, Qatar|
- Group B
|1||Jordan||3||2||1||0||3||0||+3||7||Advance to knockout stage|
|6 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Syria||0–0||Palestine||Sharjah, United Arab Emirates|
|20:00 UTC+4||Report||Stadium: Sharjah Stadium|
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
|11 January 2019 2019 AFC Asian Cup||Palestine||0–3||Australia||Dubai, United Arab Emirates|
|15:00 UTC+4||Report||Stadium: Rashid Stadium|
Referee: Valentin Kovalenko (Uzbekistan)
The final squad was announced on 26 December 2018.
|No.||Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club|
|1||GK||Tawfiq Ali||8 November 1990 (aged 28)||30||0||Taraji Wadi Al-Nes|
|2||DF||Daniel Mustafá||2 August 1984 (aged 34)||4||0||Sarmiento de Leones|
|3||MF||Mohammed Bassim||3 July 1995 (aged 23)||7||0||Shabab Al-Bireh|
|4||DF||Mohammed Saleh||18 July 1993 (aged 25)||9||0||Floriana FC|
|5||DF||Tamer Salah||3 April 1986 (aged 32)||18||0||Hilal Al-Quds|
|6||MF||Shadi Shaban||2 March 1992 (aged 26)||15||0||Ahli Al-Khaleel|
|7||DF||Musab Al-Battat||21 November 1993 (aged 25)||31||1||Ahli Al-Khaleel|
|8||MF||Jonathan Cantillana||26 May 1992 (aged 26)||20||9||Hilal Al-Quds|
|9||MF||Tamer Seyam||25 November 1992 (aged 26)||31||5||Hassania Agadir|
|10||MF||Sameh Maraaba||28 November 1992 (aged 26)||29||9||Thaqafi Tulkarem|
|11||FW||Yashir Islame||6 February 1991 (aged 27)||12||6||PKNP F.C.|
|12||FW||Khaled Salem||17 November 1989 (aged 29)||24||3||Markaz Balata|
|13||DF||Jaka Ihbeisheh||29 August 1986 (aged 32)||15||3||NK Bravo|
|14||DF||Abdullah Jaber||17 February 1993 (aged 25)||41||2||Ahli Al-Khaleel|
|15||DF||Abdelatif Bahdari (captain)||20 February 1984 (aged 34)||58||8||Shabab Al-Khalil|
|16||GK||Amr Kaddoura||1 July 1994 (aged 24)||0||0||Landskrona BoIS|
|17||MF||Pablo Tamburrini||30 January 1990 (aged 28)||18||1||Shabab Al-Bireh|
|18||MF||Oday Dabbagh||3 December 1998 (aged 20)||9||1||Hilal Al-Quds|
|19||FW||Mahmoud Wadi||19 December 1994 (aged 24)||5||0||Al-Masry|
|20||MF||Nazmi Albadawi||24 August 1991 (aged 27)||5||1||FC Cincinnati|
|21||DF||Alexis Norambuena||31 March 1984 (aged 34)||16||1||Deportes Melipilla|
|22||GK||Rami Hamadeh||24 March 1994 (aged 24)||16||0||Hilal Al-Quds|
|23||MF||Mohammed Darweesh||2 June 1991 (aged 27)||24||0||Hilal Al-Quds|
The following players have also been called up to the Palestine squad within the last 12 months.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|DF||Haytham Dheeb||12 March 1986||34||1||Jabal Al-Mukaber||v. Iraq; Friendly 4 August 2018|
|DF||Jalal Abu Yousef||4 June 1990||1||0||Markaz Shabab Al-Am'ari||v. Qatar; Friendly 11 September 2018|
|DF||Michel Termanini||8 May 1998||3||0||Hilal Al-Quds||v. Nepal; Friendly 6 October 2018|
|MF||Ahmed Awad||1 June 1992||4||0||Dalkurd FF||v. Oman; 2019 ACQ 27 March 2018|
|MF||Abdelhamid Abuhabib||6 August 1989||8||0||Ahli Al-Khaleel||v. Qatar; Friendly 11 September 2018|
|MF||Hilal Mousa||30 May 1991||9||0||Ahli Al-Khaleel||v. Tajikistan; Friendly 12 October 2018|
Head to head recordsEdit
As of 27 March 2018
Most capped playersEdit
|6||Hussam Abu Saleh||2008–2015||47||3|||
|Azmi Nassar||1999 – 2000||10||3||2||5|
|Mansour Hamid El-Bouri||2000||3||0||1||2|
|Mustafa Abdel-Ghali Yacoub||2001||6||2||1||3|
|Nicola Hadwa Shahwan||2002 – 2004||11||0||5||6|
|Azmi Nassar||2005 – 2007||11||5||1||5|
|Nelson Dekmak Mores||2007||1||0||0||1|
|Ezzat Hamza||July 2008 – June 2009||5||0||3||2|
|Jamal Daraghmeh||1 July 2009 – 4 July 2009||3||0||0||3|
|Moussa Bezaz||4 July 2009 – 31 July 2011||16||3||6||7|
|Jamal Mahmoud||15 November 2011 – 10 September 2014||32||14||6||12||2014 AFC Challenge Cup winners|
|Saeb Jendeya (Interim)||11 September 2014 – 13 October 2014||2||2||0||0|
|Ahmed Al Hassan||13 October 2014 – 18 April 2015||7||1||1||5|
|Abdel Nasser Barakat||18 April 2015 – 19 December 2017||19||11||6||2|
|Julio César Baldivieso||19 December 2017 – 22 April 2018||2||0||1||1|
|Noureddine Ould Ali||22 April 2018 –||15||4||6||5||2018 Bangabandhu Cup winners|
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- Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". eloratings.net. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- While serving only the Palestinian territories, FIFA adopted the Palestinian Football Association as the National Football Association of "Palestine" to avoid being required to make political judgements while a lasting solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is yet to be found. For discussion of the use of this term, see definitions of Palestine. For a similar situation, see Chinese Taipei.
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- "Three Palestinian soccer players killed in Gaza violence | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire". En.rian.ru. 14 January 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
- Israel to release Mahmoud Sarsak Archived 6 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine (18 June 2012). Associated Press.
- "'Red Crescent workers behind shooting attack' } Jerusalem Post } 'Jerusalem Post". jpost.com. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
- "Shin Bet busts Palestinian footballer for meeting with Hamas terrorist in Qatar |". 11 June 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
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