AFC Asian Cup 2023’s Iran vs Palestine match featured a solemn moment of silence for the 100th day of the Israeli genocide in Gaza.
A moment of silence was observed ahead of the much-anticipated AFC Asian Cup 2023’s Iran versus Palestine game at the Education City Stadium on Sunday, the 100th day of the Israeli genocide in Gaza.
The teams, standing united at the centre of the field, were joined by the crowd in a collective pause “in memory of the lives tragically lost as a result of the ongoing situation in Palestine”.
The stadium was briefly steeped in silence after which fans chanted “Free Palestine” – a famous slogan calling for Palestinians to have the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression.
Also throughout the game, unanimous chants of “Palestine” and “Gaza” were heard from Iranian fans in a show of solidarity to the cause, despite the teams being pitted against one another on the pitch at the AFC 2023.
Despite the adversity faced by the Palestinian team in their preparations for the tournament, the game unfolded with much intensity.
Iran, a three-time champion, emerged victorious with a 4-1 win.
Karim Ansarifard and Shoja Khalilzadeh secured an early lead with goals in the 2nd and 12th minutes, respectively. Mehdi Ghayedi extended the lead to 3-nil in the 38th minute.
The most joyous moment for everyone at the stadium, Iranian and Palestinian fans alike, occurred when Palestine’s Tamer Seyam pulled a goal back in first-half stoppage time, taking the game to a 3-1.
However, Sardar Azmoun sealed the victory for Iran with a fourth goal 10 minutes into the second half.
The AFC Asian Cup 2023 clash between Iran and Palestine at the Education City stadium took place against the grim backdrop of an unfolding genocide for the Palestinian national team.
On 13 January, Palestinian player Mahmoud Wadi received the devastating news of his cousin’s killing in Gaza while training and preparing for the AFC Asian Cup 2023.
Separately, in Saturday’s press conference, Fedayeen coach Makram Daboub expressed his condolences for the death of Palestine’s former General Manager of the national Olympic team, Hani Al Masdar.
The 42-year-old died on January 6 during an Israeli airstrike near his home in central Gaza.
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.
Israel’s violent expansionist aggression has killed at least 23,968 Palestinians in Gaza since October 7. A further 60,582 Palestinians are thought to have been injured, yet, only 36 hospitals in the Strip are functional – but only just partially.