Palestine coach Makram Daboub conceded his players are “in a constant state of anxiety” amid the ongoing conflict as they take on the Socceroos in a World Cup qualifier.
The fixture was set to be held in Palestine but will instead be held in the neutral location of Kuwait City at 1am (AEDT) on Wednesday.
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Daboub will be without three of his players as they could not leave Gaza in time to play Lebanon in the United Arab Emirates last week, which ended in a 0-0 draw.
But for the players he was able to take, Daboub revealed they are battling to remain focused on the task at hand.
Follow the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifier against Palestine in our LIVE BLOG below!
“The players are in the hotel or on the bus most of the time following the news on their phones and communicating with their families,” Daboub told the Associated Press.
“They are in a constant state of anxiety with the continued aggression and war in Palestine.”
Speaking after the draw against Lebanon, Daboub felt it was only “natural” for his players to be thinking about their families and friends instead of football, but hoped some positive results could “bring a little happiness to our people.”
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The Socceroos, who thrashed Bangladesh 7-0 in their last outing, understand the difficulties of the horrific situation playing out in Palestine.
They collectively pledged to donate part of their match fees to aid humanitarian efforts in Gaza to Oxfam, with help from the PFA Footballer’s Trust.
Football Australia also confirmed it will match the Socceroos’ donation.
Socceroos striker Mitchell Duke, who bagged a first-half double against Bangladesh, knows his teammates must be prepared for anything and everything against a Palestine team playing for more than three points.
“They are going to be up for it,” Duke said prior to leaving Melbourne.
“The challenges are going to be strong. Physically it will be a tough game and the intensity will be high.
“We need to be prepared for that mentally and physically.”
The Socceroos’ World Cup qualifier against Palestine kicks off at 1am on Wednesday.
WHERE IS IT BEING PLAYED?
The clash will be played at the Jaber Al-Ahmed International Stadium in Kuwait.
Socceroos boss Graham Arnold has a full squad to choose from and will have the added boost of Martin Boyle joining the team.
The Hibernian winger missed out on the Bangladesh clash as the Socceroos’ medical staff opted to take a cautious approach after he had some swelling around the knee that forced him out of the Qatar World Cup.
But Boyle has declared himself good to go for the fixture against Palestine.
Follow all the action from the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifier against Palestine in our LIVE BLOG below!
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