Asian Cup qualification enough for Palestinian team

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The Palestinian football team has been beaten by Japan in it's first top-tier international competition, the Asian Cup.

Split by political conflict, Palestine’s qualification for the tournament is an achievement in itself.

Many of the team’s top players are drawn from different parts of the world, but linked by the passion and love for their ancestral homeland.

Among them is midfielder Jaka Ihbeisheh, who was born in Europe to a Slovenian mother and Palestinian father.

He said the Palestinian football team comes, for as much as any footballing reasons, with the aim of being an ambassador for its land.

“Sometimes football players and athletes are better ambassadors than politicians,” he said.

“We have a double job here. We have to play football good, make people proud and we have to carry the name of the State of Palestine all over the world.”

Swedish youth international Mahmoud Eid is another player who opted to represent Palestine at the senior level.

He sees his decision as a way of connecting with his identity, his people and to raise awareness of the territories struggle.

"You know all lot of people send money to Palestine, my family they send money all the time to but I want to do something different,” he said.

“I want to lift them up in the football area.  We want to make the people proud the most important thing for us, I know everybody is already really proud but we want to them that we wantmore.”   

With a team of semi-professional footballers, the team is unlikely to advance past the group stage.

But for these young men, simply appearing at the Asian Cup is a significant victory for themselves and their country.

 

Source: SBS

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