Australia’s World Cup qualifier against Palestine could be played in Kuwait after the Palestinian Football Association asked for the Gulf state to host the November 21 fixture.
The Socceroos’ qualification group – which also contains Lebanon and minnows Bangladesh – has been thrown into disarray in recent weeks by the rise in violence in the Middle East.
Australia begin their qualification path against Bangladesh in Melbourne on November 16 and were scheduled to travel to the Palestinian capital of Jerusalem for the second of next month’s fixtures.
After the second-round qualifying draw was made in July, Football Australia undertook rigorous checks about playing in the city, before the ongoing conflict led to Palestine’s October friendlies being cancelled and forced the state’s governing body to explore venues overseas.
Algeria initially offered to host Palestine’s fixtures – and pay all costs in a gesture of solidarity – but that proposal was knocked back by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) because it would take the fixture outside the continent.
Similar offers were received from Malaysia and Kuwait, with the latter now appearing most likely to host next month’s qualifier subject to approval from the AFC.
The Socceroos are no strangers to playing in Kuwait, having been based in the Gulf state during the COVID-affected world Cup qualification run in 2021, when they won all eight of their games.
Palestine have never lost a World Cup qualifier on home soil.
The key members of Palestine’s squad ply their trade overseas, but the domestic-based players drawn from the occupied West Bank – where games have been suspended – have travelled abroad for a camp ahead of next month’s fixtures.
Source : The Courier