AFC National Team of the Year: Palestine
Manila: Palestine, champions of the last edition of the AFC Challenge Cup, have been named as the AFC National Team of the Year at the AFC Annual Awards gala in the Philippine capital city on Sunday.
The West Asian national side beat the Philippines 1-0 in a thrilling finale in the Maldives last May, punching the last ticket available for the continent’s national team flagship competition, the AFC Asian Cup 2015 to be held in Australia.
A second half free-kick from tournament leading scorer Ashraf Al Fawaghra proved the difference as Palestine won over the Philippines at the National Stadium.
Al Fawaghra crucially netted his fourth goal of the tournament a minute before the hour mark as Palestine completed an unbeaten campaign without conceding a goal, sealing a place in a tough Group D in the AFC Asian Cup alongside defending champions Japan, Jordan and 2007 winners Iraq.
The Jamal Mahmoud-led side’s historic AFC Challenge Cup victory was hailed as the best ever day in Palestine's football history.
"I do believe it is recognition by the AFC family that football in Palestine is developing and that the Palestinian football family is committed to promoting ethics and values in the game," said President of Palestinian Football Association General Jibril Rajoub.
"I see it as a clear-cut message to the people of Palestine and the Palestinian footballers that promoting such ethics and values is the right way to make business in the Middle East."