Butte College's Editorially Independent Student Voice


Butte College's Editorially Independent Student Voice


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Palestine makes history with AFC win

The Lions of Canaan beat Hong Kong and secure their first win in AFC history
Fars Media Corporation, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Fars Media Corporation, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The AFC Asian Cup is a very prestigious tournament that showcases the best of the Asian Soccer scene. Held every four years, it brings together top national teams from across the continent to compete for the title of Asia’s football champion. The 2023 AFC Asian Cup is happening in 2024 due to date push backs which are a result of extremely hot summer temperatures in host Qatar. This major continental footballing tournament has been witness to the beautiful journey of Palestine’s national football team.

For the Palestinian national football team, the green fields of a football pitch offer a change of scenery when compared to the conflict-ridden landscapes back home. With little to no history within the sport, the Lions of Canaan, as they are known, are still trying to become regulars at big tournaments like the AFC. Their first participation was in 2015 and since then, they have qualified for every edition which reflects the steady rise in quality that the team has been seeing over the years.

The road to getting to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup was silver-screen-worthy. Palestine’s qualification campaign was impressive; a series of victories over teams such as the Philippines, Mongolia, and Yeme saw them topping their group and securing their spot in the tournament.

Orionist, previous versions by Makaristos, Mysid, etc., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the lead-up to the AFC Asian Cup 2023, the Palestinian national football team faced many challenges. Imagine training for one of the world’s biggest football showdowns while your home is ensnared in conflict. That was the reality for the Palestinian squad as they geared up for the AFC Asian Cup 2023

 The ongoing conflict in their homeland not only disrupted their training schedules forcing them to train in other countries like Algeria and Saudi Arabia and suspend their domestic championships but also undoubtedly weighed heavily on their minds and hearts. The psychological toll of all the news of the turmoil affecting their families and loved ones made the team’s preparation for the tournament an emotional trail as much as a physical one.

After weeks of preparation, the tournament began and in Qatar, Palestine made history. Their match against Hong Kong, held at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha, was a landmark moment for Palestinian football. Under the leadership of players like Oday Dabbagh, Musab Al-Battat, and Zeid Qunbar, the team achieved their first-ever victory in the AFC Asian Cup.

This victory held a significance far beyond the confines of the pitch. For a nation often in the headlines for conflict and strife, the triumph was a morale booster; not just for the team, but for the entire Palestinian community, both at home and in the diaspora.

The impact of this historic victory is likely to stretch far into the future of Palestinian football. It shows just what hard work can achieve and was an inspiring moment for a whole generation of Palestinians. 

Against all odds, the Lions of Canaan showed the world that in football, resilience, and unity speak louder than conflict and despair.

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Nathan Azevedo Espindula
Nathan Azevedo Espindula, Editor and Chief
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