Palestine Soccer Betting Odds
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Nicknames: Al-Fursan (The Knights), Al-Fida'i (The Fighters)
Most caps: Saeb Jendeya (70)
Top scorer: Ziyad Al-Kord (15)
Home stadium: Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium, Al-Ram
Although football in Palestine has been badly affected by the political turmoil in the region, the association tries to keep league activities and matches going according to plan. The West Bank and Gaza each has a league of ten teams, with the two winners competing for the Palestine championship. The huge crowd following and the scores of children playing in the streets bear testimony to the popularity of football, which helps the locals to forget their daily woes. The young association's greatest success so far has been its qualification for the second round of the Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004. Ismail Al-Masry, the best and most famous player in the region, was appointed manager of the Palestinian national team.
Palestine was chosen as a pilot project as part of the Goal programme. Though the headquarters of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) in Gaza was built in February 2002, it did not open until the summer of 2005 after a lull in the political situation. The building serves as a technical centre and offers ideal conditions for the administrative coordination of the game as well as providing accommodation for national and club teams and persons attending courses and meetings. In a letter to FIFA, PFA President General Ahmad Afifi wrote that the new headquarters were an enormous help to the PFA, both in administrative and technical terms, and had already made a significant contribution to the development and improvement of Palestinian football. The second part of the Goal Project foresees the completion of the technical centre and an artificial pitch in Gaza delayed due to external circumstances and the installation of artificial pitches in Ramallah and in Ram, near Jerusalem. To this end the Goal Bureau released additional funds on 7 November 2005. The French government and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation have also provided funding for these pitches. FIFA's Finance Committee had already approved the sum of USD 100,000 from the FIFA Humanitarian Fund for the purchase of equipment.
AFC World Cup Qualifiers
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the governing body of association football in Asia. It has 46 member countries, mostly located on the Asian continent. Due to the disputed boundary of Europe and Asia, transcontinental nations such as Turkey and Russia are instead in the UEFA, whereas countries such as Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Israel are entirely in Asia (Central or Western Asia) and still members of the UEFA. On the other hand, Australia, formerly in the OFC, has been in the AFC since 2006, in the same way as the Oceanian nations of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, which are also members of AFC.