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Palestinians hail historic home game

  • AP, Thursday, March 10, 2011 2:48 PM

The Palestinian national team lost to Thailand in a penalty shootout on Wednesday in an Olympic qualifying game that marked the first time the Palestinians have hosted a competitive match at the international level. Down 1-0 from the first leg in Bangkok, the Palestinian team scored the only goal through Abdul Hamid Abuhabib just before halftime but lost 6-5 in the shootout.

"The world now will see Palestine in different eyes, in sports eyes," said Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian soccer union. "This is a new launch for the Palestinian people toward freedom and independence."

Rajoub said the last time an international athletic competition took place in what are now the Palestinian territories was in 1934. That game was played in east Jerusalem, part of British Mandatory Palestine prior to Israeli independence in 1948. Rajoub said it is believed a British team comprising of both Arabs and Jews lost 4-1 to an Egyptian team.

"In a way, we won the game before it started," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said. "It's the first home game for our team and soon we will have the first ever home game in the Palestinian state."

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