SHARJAH: Palestine drew 0-0 with Lebanon on Thursday in a World Cup qualifier played without fans in the UAE due to the Israel-Gaza conflict.
The match had been scheduled to be played in Beirut but Israel’s response to the attack by Hamas on Oct 7 caused officials to switch the match to Sharjah.
The whole Palestinian team wore traditional keffiyeh, chequered black and white scarves, before the national anthems and there was a minute’s silence for those killed in the conflict before kickoff.
Despite starting official training only four days ago, the Palestinians started the game well.
Yet Lebanon captain Hassan Maatouk had the first chance after 12 minutes, with his long-range shot going wide, before Atta Gaber responded for the Palestinians with a header on the half-hour mark that went over.
Karim Darwich missed a good chance for Lebanon three minutes into the second half and Palestine, ranked 94th by Fifa, had a Tamer Seyam shot saved by Lebanon goalkeeper Moustafa Matar.
Lebanon’s Ali Al Haj shot into the side netting after 87 minutes before Matar saved Oday Dabbagh’s close-range shot with his out-stretched leg in the final minute.
This week’s matches marked the start of the second phase of qualifiers for the expanded 48-team 2026 World Cup, when Asia will have eight guaranteed berths plus a possible ninth available through an intercontinental playoff.
The top two finishers in each of the nine groups advance to the third phase.
The Palestinians usually host games at Al-Ram’s Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium on the West Bank but they will meet Australia next in Kuwait on Nov 21.