By Samindra Kunti in Doha
January 22 – Makram Daboub believes that his side can clinch their first-ever ticket to the round of sixteen against Hong Kong, sticking to the standard of play that brought Palestine a draw with the United Arab Emirates.
The Palestinians picked themselves up from a 4-1 opening-match defeat against Iran to earn a valuable point against ten-man United Arab Emirates and on Tuesday they will be slight favourites to overcome Hong Kong, the lowest-ranked team in the competition.
“I have confidence in our players, and if we can replicate the second-half performance against UAE, we have a good chance of victory,” said Daboub. “Hong Kong have proven to be a formidable and advanced team, performing well against UAE and Iran. Winning is not just an option; it’s a necessity for us.”
“Hong Kong have made significant improvements in their style, often dictating the pace of play with direct football. Finding solutions is crucial for us, and an early goal will alleviate pressure on the team. We aim to score early to secure the three points. Staying calm under pressure is key and we are ready to face whatever comes our way.”
Having debuted at the Asian Cup in 2015, Palestine have neither won a match nor progressed to the second round, but the match against Hong Kong provides their best chance yet to create history and bring a moment of hope for Gazans and Palestinians around the world.
Player Tamer Seyam said Palestinians deserve it.
With no points yet, Hong Kong will also be looking for their first-ever victory and they ran Iran close in their second group game. Coach Joern Andersen and his side however remain convinced that their role in the tournament is not at an end yet, eyeing a victory to try and squeeze through in unlikely fashion.
“In analysing Palestine’s strategy, they typically play a 4-4-2 formation and look for opportunities on the counter-attack,” said Andersen. “It is essential for us to pose a constant threat in the attacking third. Against Iran, we created three to four chances, and we are determined to improve our finishing in tomorrow’s match.”
“This is undeniably a high-pressure game, and everyone is aware that a victory is crucial for our continued participation in the tournament. While I don’t want to put undue pressure on the team, it’s a collective understanding that we have to win.”
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