RAMALLAH – Achieving their country’s first trophy in history, Palestine’s triumphant football team on Sunday, June 1, received a warm welcome from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who greeted the players in a ceremony in Ramallah.
“It is time for our people to celebrate this great victory you brought. You have raised our heads high, I wish you all success and progress,” Abbas said in a brief speech at the reception of the national team, Wafa news agency reported.
During the ceremony, Abbas met the team and posed with them for photographs, while holding the much-coveted cup.
Palestine’s football team won the Asia Challenge Cup last Friday in a match against the Philippines. The victory allowed Palestine to secure its place in the AFC Asia Cup that will be held next year in Australia.
The match is the first victory in an international soccer contest for the Palestinians since the establishment of the Palestine Football Federation in 1928, sport officials said.
"Congratulations to our people, Palestine today is proud of such an historical achievement," Jibril Al-Rajoub, chairman of the Palestine Football Association, who watched the match among hundreds of fans in the West Bank city of Ramallah, told Reuters.
In Gaza City, thousands watched the match on large screens on the sandy beach, beating drums.
Fireworks lit up the sky as player Ashraf Al Fawaghra scored the winning goal for Palestine with a free kick in the second half.
"It is not the World Cup, but our happiness feels like we won the World Cup," said Adel Waleed, a 45-year-old teacher who watched the game with his four children.
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