Palestinian final, second leg to go ahead

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – The Palestinian Cup will be decided on Tuesday night in the rescheduled final, second leg between Hebron’s Ahly al-Khalil and Shabab Khan Yunis, the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) confirmed Monday.

The match had originally been slated to take place on Saturday, but Israel prevented it from going ahead, according to Palestinian sports authorities.

Israeli authorities did not allow the players and coach from Gaza’s second city Khan Yunis to enter the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel for nearly 50 years.

The biggest match of the year in the territories took place last Tuesday, when Ahly al-Khalil won the first leg 1-0 in Khan Yunis.

Now the Shabab players will have the chance to turn the tie around on Tuesday in the West Bank, with the winners of the final to qualify for next season’s AFC Cup, Asia’s premier club football tournament.

Palestinian footballers routinely complain of being unable to attend matches because of Israel’s stringent restrictions on movement between the two territories.

Tuesday’s first leg was no exception — Kifah al-Sharif, the president of Ahly al-Khalil, said the Israeli authorities had prevented eight of the club’s players from entering Gaza.

That match was only the second time Israel has allowed a West Bank team to play in Gaza since the Islamist Hamas group took power in the coastal enclave in 2007.

The PFA claim that FIFA president Gianni Infantino has taken a close interest in the case.

Israeli authorities did not make any comment.

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