Despite anxieties amid Israel’s relentless onslaught of their country, the Fedayeen will show to the world Palestine’s spirit of resistance.
In the run-up to Palestine’s debut match on Sunday at this year’s Asian Cup games, team captain Musab Al Battat said his squad are destined for a finalist spot.
As his team prepares to face three-time Asian Cup winner Iran, Al Battat said during a press conference held in Doha on Saturday that his team were “raring to go”.
For the sake of his fans, he added that he and his teammates “want to put in good performances and get good results”.
Known locally as the ‘Fedayeen’, which is Arabic for freedom fighters, the Palestine team’s training efforts have been marred by Israel’s relentless onslaught of Gaza, which has killed at least 23,700 Palestinians since October 7.
“There has been very little football activity in Palestine for three months since the start of the war and this impacted us negatively,” Al Battat said.
However, in a bold display of Palestinian resistance, he added that his team was “a part of the Palestinian cause and people”.
“We have a message to the world that we can deliver on the world stage. Palestine, like any other country, has the right to participate in any tournament and be present anywhere,” he added.
Despite the backdrop of Israel’s violent expansionist aggression, Al Battat vowed that “the Palestine national team is well prepared to participate in the finals of the Asian Cup games”.
Anxiety amid the games
At Saturday’s press conference, Fedayeen coach Makram Daboub, who was also in attendance, expressed his condolences for the death of Palestine’s former General Manager of the national Olympic team, Hani Al Masdar.
He died on January 6 during an Israeli airstrike near his home in central Gaza. He was 42.
Fedayeen preparations for the Asian Cup tournament are overshadowed by the harsh realities and harrowing death toll of Israel’s never-ending violent occupation.
Speaking to Al Jazeera on Saturday, Fedayeen’s goalkeeper, Rami Hamadi, said “It’s not a good situation for playing or for living, because of what is happening to our people in Gaza”.
Al Jazeera also reported that the squad are always following the latest developments in the country’s worsening humanitarian crisis.
“Everyone is glued to the news, before and after training, be it on the bus or at the hotel,” Daboub said.
His players “have a constant feeling of anxiety for their families,” he added.
This is compounded by reports emerging of more communications blackouts in the enclave.
On Friday, Palestinian telecommunications company, Paltel, revealed via X that the Strip was experiencing yet another communications blackout.
This marks the sixth such instance since Israel renewed its destructive campaign on Gaza last year.
Al Jazeera’s report described the “nervous wait” of Fedayeen players when they attempted to reach their loved ones during blackouts.
Speaking about his teammate, Mohammed Saleh, Hamadi said “Saleh sent a message to his family 10 days ago. Only yesterday they answered him. They’re OK”.