Gaza blockade lifted for footballers

Israeli authorities lifted a Gaza blockade to allow three Palestinian footballers to join their national team for an Asian Cup qualifying match against China in Jordan on Wednesday.

    Palestine captain Jendeya Saeb (L) and Iraq's Hassan Haidar

    Saeb Jendeya, Palestine captain, along with defenders Hamada Eshbair and Ihmeidan Barrbakh were allowed through the Rafah checkpoint to travel to Amman via Cairo in order to play in the crucial Group E match.

     

    "It is a very difficult and long trip but the joy of linking up with our team mates in the national team and try to get a good result is the source of our happiness," Jendeya said.

     

    Palestine are at the bottom of their group, but a win against China would put them back into Asian Cup qualifying contention.

     

    "The game will be very hard on us," said Palestine coach Mohammed Sabbah.

     

    "All of our matches in this group are tough although we consider Jordan as our home because we have a lot of Palestinian fans who live here.

     

    "Winning against China would be a historical event for us and it would open the door again for us to fight for a place in next year's Asian Cup finals," he added.

     

    The three Palestinian players should arrive in Amman just in time for the match which will be played at 10:00pm local time at the King Abdullah International Stadium.

     

    Ali Daei turns to coaching

     

    Meanwhile, Iranian national striker Ali Daei has been appointed player-coach of Iran Premier League club Saipa after previous coach Werner Lorant quit to go to Turkish Super League club Erciyesspor.

     

    "I have accepted the responsibility as we have important matches coming up," Daei was quoted as saying on the Asian Football Confederation's Web site.

     

    "I have no intention of retiring (as a player) and this coaching job is purely temporary," added the 37-year-old.

     

    Lorant, former 1860 Munich coach, joined Saipa earlier this year with the German guiding the club to the top of the table in the Iranian League.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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