AFC Announces sweeping changes to 2023 Asian Cup qualification

Palestine will face another hurdle in their attempt to qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced that matches will now take place in a centralized venue and that the number of qualifiers will be reduced from six matches per team to three.

Al-Fida’i have yet to learn their opponents for the standalone phase of Asian Cup qualification this decision reduces the margin of error for every competing team. The matches will be held on June 8th, June 11th, and June 14th 2022. The AFC will hold a bid process to determine the six host countries; it is unclear whether this will be announced before or after the draw- which is expected to be conducted some time within the next month.

A look back at the 2019 edition shows that if qualifying had ended on Match Day 3 as opposed to Match Day 6 Myanmar would have qualified ahead of Kyrgyzstan while a tie breaker would have been used to determine whether Hong Kong should qualify ahead of Korea DPR.

Palestine are no strangers to playing on neutral territory. This Past June they went 3-0 beating Comoros 5-1 in Qatar to qualify for the FIFA Arab Cup and vanquished Singapore and Yemen by a combined score of 7-0 in a pair of World Cup qualifiers held in Saudi Arabia.

The national team was also forced to play on neutral territory in 2018 World Cup qualification and secured a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia as well as a 6-0 win over Malaysia in Amman, Jordan.

Palestine were shut out of Asian Cup qualification proper for the 2011 and 2015 editions and were forced to forge a path through the now defunct Challenge Cup. Their combined record in the 2014, 2012, and 2010 editions was 10W-6D-2L the losses came in the 2012 edition in the semifinal against eventual finalists Korea DPR and in the third place playoff against Philippines.

At the time of publication It is unknown what say the individual Football Associations had in the decision to alter the nature of the Asian Cup qualification process.

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