Raja Casablanca first Morocco football team to play in Palestinian territories

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Spectators watch a match between Palestinian team Hilal Al-Quds and Morocco's Raja Casablanca in the Arab Champions Cup at Faisal Husseini stadium in the town of Al-Ram, between Jerusalem and Ramallah. (AFP)
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Spectators hold a huge flag depicting Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock mosque during a match between Palestinian team Hilal Al-Quds and Morocco's Raja Casablanca. (AFP)
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Players are seen in action during a match between Palestinian team Hilal Al-Quds (blue) and Morocco's Raja Casablanca in the Arab Champions Cup. (AFP)
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Spectators watch a match between Palestinian team Hilal Al-Quds and Morocco's Raja Casablanca in the Arab Champions Cup. (AFP)
Updated 03 October 2019

Raja Casablanca first Morocco football team to play in Palestinian territories

  • Visit comes after a decades-long Arab boycott of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians
  • 28 fans of the Raja Casablanca club were denied entry to the occupied West Bank

RAMALLAH: Raja Casablanca became the first Moroccan football team to play in the occupied Palestinian territories on Thursday.
But 28 fans of the club were denied entry to the occupied West Bank by "Israeli occupation forces", Morocco's MAP news agency said, quoting the country's embassy in Jordan.
Arab clubs and national teams have historically refused to play in the West Bank, where the Palestinian national team plays, as it required them to apply for Israeli entry permits.
This was seen as breaching a decades-long Arab boycott of the Jewish state over its treatment of the Palestinians.
But in recent years either clubs or national teams from Iraq, Jordan, the UAE and Bahrain have all visited.
Others, including Egypt and Lebanon, still refuse.
Thursday evening's match was eventually won by Raja Casablanca, who beat Palestinian team Hilal Al-Quds 2-0 in the Arab Champions Cup.
The Moroccan giants had won the first leg 1-0 at home, with the team's supporters waving Palestinian flags and chanting songs supportive of the cause.
But on Thursday night it was not about winning.
"We consider we are winners due to the presence of Raja Casablanca," Hilal Al-Quds's sporting director Badr Makki said before the game started.
"But that doesn't stop us hoping to win and progress."
The game was played at a stadium in Al-Ram, close to Jerusalem.
"We are delighted to be in Palestine to represent Morocco," Raja Casablanca's coach Patrice Carteron told a news conference late Wednesday.
The Facebook page of Raja supporters said the team was "making history by becoming the first North African club to set foot on the holy lands of Palestine".
Palestine was first recognised by FIFA in the late 1990s but the team and organisation have grown in recent years.


Mikel Arteta: ‘We can face Liverpool with confidence’

Updated 12 min 5 sec ago

Mikel Arteta: ‘We can face Liverpool with confidence’

  • Arsenal face ultimate test of their character against Premier League champions

LONDON: Mikel Arteta believes Liverpool are getting “better and better” but says Arsenal must go to Anfield believing they can win after two straight victories against Jurgen Klopp’s men.

Arsenal have a maximum six points from their first two league matches of the season but face the ultimate test of their character against the Premier League champions on Monday.

Liverpool also have a 100 percent record this season but suffered a league defeat at the Emirates in July and lost to Arsenal on penalties in the Community Shield last month.

“We know the standards they have set in this league, how consistent they have been and that’s because they dominate almost every aspect of the game,” Arsenal boss Arteta said on Friday.

“So we need to be at our best, we need to compete really well against this team and hopefully the boys are ready to do that on Monday.”

Arteta said it was easier to play at an empty Anfield than in front of Liverpool’s passionate supporters but pointed out that Klopp’s side were in fine form.

“I think they are getting better and better,” he said. “They have fewer weaknesses. They are a fantastic side.”

Arteta called on his team to be ruthless in front of goal but said they would also have to prepare to “suffer for periods.”

“Most important, have the belief that we can go there and win and we all have to believe we are capable of doing that,” he said.