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Football: Socceroos invited for Palestinian friendly

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Football player Ueda Naomichi of Japan (L) and Palestine players compete for the ball during the men's 1/8 final at the Hwaseong Main Stadium during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon on September 25, 2014.
Football player Ueda Naomichi of Japan (L) and Palestine players compete for the ball during the men’s 1/8 final at the Hwaseong Main Stadium during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon on September 25, 2014.

Palestine coach Ahmad Alhasan invited Australia to visit the Palestinian territories for a rare and unlikely friendly set against the backdrop of Israeli occupation.

Alhasan, in what is likely to be his final pre-match press conference as Palestine’s Asian Cup hopes hang by a thread, said he made the offer to repay the hosts’ hospitality.

“As the coach of a team under occupation, this is an invitation to the Australia team to come to Palestine and to play with us in Palestine,” he told reporters late on Monday.

The chances of the game materialising are remote. Palestine, appearing in their first Asian Cup, last played an international in their conflict-torn homeland in 2011.

The Palestinians overcame complications of the blockade to reach their first Asian Cup by winning the AFC Challenge Cup last year.

But their Jordanian coach Jamal Mahmoud, who orchestrated the victory in the Maldives, has since resigned and been replaced by Alhasan.

The Knights play their final Group D game against Iraq on Tuesday after earlier losing 4-0 to Japan and 5-1 to Jordan.

The Palestinians have made some inroads towards achieving statehood, winning the rank of observer state at the United Nations in 2012, but have struggled to gain full membership.

Football’s world body FIFA, however, recognised the Palestine national team in 1998.

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