World Cup qualifying: Palestine's match against Saudi Arabia rescheduled to Amman

As Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel, the Saudi authorities called for the match to be played at a neutral venue.

Reuters| Updated: Nov 09, 2015, 08:55 AM IST

Amman: The Saudi Arabia and Palestinian national teams were training in Amman, Jordan on Sunday (November 8) for their 2018 World Cup qualifying match which had been rescheduled.

The Palestinian team, known by FIFA as Palestine, were due to host Saudi Arabia for their Group A match in October at the Palestinian national Faisal Husseini stadium stadium in Al-Ram, but this required entry through an Israeli border post.

As Saudi Arabia does not recognise Israel, the Saudi authorities called for the match to be played at a neutral venue.

FIFA announced on Wednesday (November 4) that its security officer and local authorities had earlier met, and the Palestinian government confirmed that it could no longer guarantee the safety and security around the matches in question.

The Emergency Bureau for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers confirmed that the security guarantees could not be compromised and that both the match against Saudi Arabia and another against Malaysia needed to be played on neutral ground.

The Palestine Football Association later announced the Palestine-Saudi Arabia match, which was originally scheduled for November 5, would take place on November 9 in Amman, Jordan while the Palestine-Malaysia match will still be played, as planned, on November 12 at the same venue.

Coaches of the Saudi team and the Palestinian team held a news conference in Amman on Sunday (November 8) to discuss details of the upcoming match.

"The preparation is very short, so I am not used to, we are not used to having such a short preparation, so it`s a pity that we knew a few days ago that we have to play here but I cannot change it, so we prepare as good as possible and we started two days ago with our preparations and we will do everything to prepare in a way that we can play good football," said Saudi Arabia head coach Bert Van Marwijk in Amman on Sunday.

"We know that it will be a very difficult game, says the game in Saudi Arabia that we won 3-2 in extra time, that says something about the strength of the Palestines, and we analyzed the team of Palestine very good, so we know what we can expect," he added.

Palestinian team head coach Abdel Nasser Barakat said he had faith in his players to be successful in the game.

"Everyone knows of the difficulties we are living through, but of course in the difficult situations we try and give all that we have to make the Palestinian people happy. Therefore, despite how challenging the game will be tomorrow, we can always depend on the will of the Palestinian people and the will of our national team," he said.

The decision to move the matches means the Palestianian team has only hosted one World Cup qualifier at home, when they drew 0-0 with United Arab Emirates at the Faisel Al-Husseini stadium in Al-Ram, West Bank in September.

Saudi Arabia lead Group A in the second round of Asian qualifying after winning all their first four games for 12 points. Palestine are third with five points.