After a heroic draw with Syria in the first match of the Asian Cup, the Palestine national team has played Australia, who has lost to Jordan, on Friday afternoon.
Palestine arrived to the match with great hopes and motivation, looking to snatch another surprise and a few more points in their quest to qualify for the second round of the competition. In their secret dreams, they fantasized of a tight victory. 11,250 fans, most of them Palestinians, were gathered in the stands of Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai
Not too long after the opening whistle, Palestine’s reality check came. It took the Aussies only 18 minutes to get up on the scoreboard when Jamie MacLaren headed home a great lob by Celtic’s Tom Rogic. The Palestinian were in a state of shock, when just 2 minutes later Awer Mabil, a Sudanese-born forward, has scored from within the box and made it 2-0 for the Socceroos.
Palestine was falling the apart. There were no signs of the impressive performance against the Syrians. The first half ended only in 2-0 with a shambolic statistic line of 35% possession, 0 shots, 0 shots on target, 0 corners, 8 fouls & 1 yellow card. These are not the numbers you want when playing against the Champions of Asia. They needed a 180 degree change.
In the second half Palestine stabilized its defence a bit, but couldn’t bring up their game. The stars of the previous match, Abdelatif Al-Bahadari, Abdallah Jaber & Rami Hamadeh were not as sharp as they were on Sunday.
Australia controlled the pace, kept threatening the goal and have found the back of the net for the third time in the 90th minute through Greek-Australian Apostolos Giannou.
3-0 for Australia in the final whistle, in what served as a reminder for the rest of the teams competing in the tournament, that the champions are yet to give away their title, as well as crashing a huge part of Palestine’s chances to commit history and go to the next round.
Palestine will now need to beat Jordan, hope for a Syrian victory and maybe to pray for the God of third places, in order to go through. That’s tough.