Ashraf Nu’man Alfawaghra was right on the money when he scored off of a free kick in the 59th minute. His goal would prove to be the game winner against the Philippines, securing Palestine’s first ever international trophy as well as a trip to Australia for Asia’s most prestigious football tournament, the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
Both Palestine and the Philippines went into this match with high expectations. Neither team has won the Challenge Cup in the past, and neither team has ever qualified for the Asian Cup.
The opening half of the match saw both teams registering chances, but neither the Azkals nor the Lions of Canaan were able to convert any for a score. The Philippines sat back and took a defensive style of play while the Palestinians maintained the majority of possession.
It wasn’t until the second half that the Palestinians finally broke through. Minutes after Palestinian defender Haythan Theeb headed a powerful shot that ricocheted off the post, the Palestine side was given a free kick opportunity after the Philippine defenders committed a foul nearly 30 yards from the goal. Alfawaghra’s curling shot hit a wide open left side of the net, giving his team a 1-0 lead.
Energized by Alfawaghra’s stunning display, the Palestinians refused to let off the steam and continued to pressure the defending line of the Azkals. At full time, the Palestinians rushed the field to celebrate their hard-earned victory.
Aside from earning the right to call themselves Challenge Cup champions, Palestine also swept the individual player awards.
Having netted his fourth goal in the tournament, Palestinian forward Alfawaghra won recognition as the tournament’s top goalscorer. His latest goal is already being considered to be the most important goal of the Palestinian Football Association’s history.
Palestine midfielder Murad Said was named MVP of the Challenge Cup tournament.
In addition, goalkeeper Ramzi Saleh was commended for keeping yet another clean sheet. After eight matches, six in the two qualifying stages and two in the knockout stage, Palestine scored 16 times and conceded an impressive zero goals.
Click here to see how Palestine performed in the previous matches. Watch full highlights of the championship match below.