'From pain has come joy': Palestine qualifies for Asian Cup last 16 with historic win

'From pain has come joy': Palestine qualifies for Asian Cup last 16 with historic win
Palestinians were given a rare reason to celebrate after a historic win at the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar saw them make the knockout stages of the tournament.
2 min read
24 January, 2024
Palestine qualified for the knockout stages of the Asian Cup after beating Hong Kong 3-0 on Tuesday [Noushad Thekkayil/NurPhoto via Getty]

Palestinians had a rare opportunity to celebrate this week after a historic win in the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar saw them through to the tournament's knockout stages.

Palestine beat Hong Kong 3-0 on Tuesday night - their first ever victory at the Asian Cup, and one that saw them make it out of Group C and into the last 16.

The Palestinians dominated the match, scoring their opening goal in the 12th minute before effectively sealing the deal with two more goals in the second half.

There were plenty of Palestine supporters in the crowd in Qatar sporting the keffiyeh scarf and waving Palestinian flags, and victory set the crowd alight.

The win also clearly meant a lot to the players too.

Defender Mohammed Saleh, who played the full 90 minutes of the match, fell to the floor as emotion overcame him at the end of the game.

Saleh is one of the few players on the team from Gaza, and has been struggling to contact family in the Palestinian territory displaced by Israel's air and ground onslaught which has lasted more than 100 days and killed more than 25,000 people.

Other players have lost family in Israeli airstrikes during and in the lead-up to the tournament.

Scores of Palestinian athletes and other figures from the sporting world have been killed in the Israeli onslaught, including the coach of the Palestinian Olympic football team.

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Palestinian defender Yaser Hamed said after the match: "It's amazing because we make history for the national team, for all Palestinian people who were suffering... I think we've made happiness for millions of Palestinians around the world."

News of the victory was met with delight from supporters, Palestinian and otherwise.

"Congratulations to our national team... from the depths of pain has come happiness," one Facebook user commented under a post from the Palestine Football Association announcing the win.

Palestine will face either Australia or Qatar in the next round of the tournament.

In another historic qualification, Syria advanced to the knockout stage of the Asian Cup for the first time after beating India 1-0 on Tuesday.