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Palestine dream of home games for 2026 World Cup effort - ESPN

PERTH, Australia — After booking its place in the final rounds of World Cup qualification for the first time, Palestine's men's national team are hopeful that a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Hamas conflict will allow them to return to playing in their home nation once again.

Palestine play Australia in their final game of this phase of qualification in Perth on Tuesday evening, with both sides having already secured progression to the next phase.

Due to security concerns, Palestine haven't played a true home game since 2019, when they held Saudi Arabia to a 0-0 draw in front of a capacity crowd at the Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium in the West Bank.

They had been set to host Australia in a qualifier in the West Bank last November, only for the outbreak of hostilities between Hamas and Israel to force the game to be moved to Kuwait, which, alongside Qatar, has hosted their subsequent 'home' games.

«Playing at home for any team is a great motivation,» midfielder Mohammed Rashid said. «It's a strength, it's the biggest advantage any team will have.

»We're praying to God that sometime soon we will be able to do that, especially in the next round.

"[Not playing at home] is the hardest [thing] that we have faced so far.

«Dealing with it, we kind of got used to it now but it's never the same.»

Palestine booked their place in the next round of qualifiers via a 0-0 draw with Lebanon last Thursday, a result that also earned them a place at a fourth straight Asian Cup.

Divided into three groups of six, the two group winners from this phase will qualify for the expanded 2026 World Cup, while the third and fourth-placed teams move into a fourth round in which two further automatic slots and a place in an