Palestine is set to face the Philippines today in the championship match of this year’s AFC Challenge Cup. Following a strong record of five wins and two draws, Palestine has made its way into the tournament’s final match for the first time.
This year marks the fifth and final edition of the biennial AFC Challenge Cup. The competition is organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and consists of teams representing what football governing bodies consider to be emerging nations and second-tier national teams. This year’s Challenge Cup winners — either Palestine or the Philippines, depending on this evening’s scoreline — will directly qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, a prestigious tournament featuring the continent’s top teams.
Twenty teams participated in the qualification draw but only eight succeeded in passing through. Palestine, assigned to Group D, came away with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Bangladesh, a 0-9 thrashing of the Northern Mariana Islands, and a scoreless tie with Nepal. The record was good enough to send Palestine to the top of its group and, subsequently, to the next round of qualifications. [Read more...]