Palestine inspired by fans ahead of Socceroos clash

Palestine midfielder Mohammed Rashid says the people suffering in his war-torn nation are providing constant inspiration for the team to buck the odds and qualify for the World Cup.

The Socceroos will host Palestine in a World Cup qualifier in Perth on Tuesday night.

As expected, Australia have already easily secured their path to the next stage of qualifying by winning their opening five games with a for-and-against goal record of 17-0.

Palestine, ranked 93rd in the world, have also qualified with one game to spare, posting two wins and two draws from their five games to date.

Their only loss has been to Australia - a 1-0 defeat in November.

More than 35,000 people are estimated to have been killed since Israel declared war on Hamas in Gaza in October.

For members of the Palestinian soccer team, they are desperate to keep winning in order to bring a small slice of joy to their suffering compatriots.

"To be honest, this is our only motivation right now," Rashid said.

"This is what keeps us working on the pitch because there's really nothing else to work for. 

"People right now, this is the only thing they're watching, this is the only thing that gives them hope - watching their national team advance and go on to the next rounds that we have never made before. 

"So to us this is a big motivation to see the support that even with the war going on, we see pictures of people watching the games in Gaza and everywhere all over Palestine. 

"So this gives us a lot of hope. And hopefully this will keep us going, but we pray that everything will stop and peace will prevail in the area because really, it's enough."

Palestine's achievement of already qualifying for the next phase is all the more remarkable given they haven't been able to play a true home game since 2019.

"This has been the most difficult thing because every time we have a home game, we just start to look for a place to play," Rashid said. 

"To have 28 games outside of our home - honestly this is pretty rough.

"Dealing with it we kind of got used to it now, but it's never the same 

"The last time we played against Saudi (in 2019) in our home, it was like a full house.

"People were, like, climbing trees to watch the game."

Palestine football president Jibril Rajoub was unable to join the team in Perth after his visa application to Australia was denied, adding further drama ahead of Tuesday's match.

Rashid said it would be a dream to qualify for the World Cup and raise Palestine's name on the world stage. 

He detailed the struggles every member of the squad has had to endure in recent times.

"We don't want to talk politics, but when you see any innocent person get hurt for no reason, you can't help but get affected by it," he said.

"But when it comes to football, you try to - at least for the game - just get your head out of it. 

"Because at the end of the day, if you're performing good, you're doing what your country deserves."

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says he will make nine changes to the starting side that beat Bangladesh 2-0 last week.

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