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Tehran: Palestine U-23 national team coach Abdelnasser Barakat believes his team benefited greatly from competing in the recent AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers, despite failing to grab a spot in next year’s finals.

Palestine were drawn in Group C alongside hosts Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Nepal and came away with six points from their four games thanks to wins over both Afghanistan and Nepal - results that Barakat was able to draw many positives from.

“The players proved their ability to face the big teams regardless of the two defeats against Saudi Arabia and Iran," Barakat, speaking exclusively to, said.

“The lack of experience was the weakest point in our young team, as we missed chances that could have changed the course of the matches against Saudi Arabia and Iran. Nevertheless, I think that playing in the qualifiers was a great experience for the players, as they learned new lessons in football.

Barakat added that given the current Palestine U-23 side had only been together for two years, a bright future beckons for his charges who have also competed in the Al Nakba and 2014 Asian Games tournaments.

“The team will have a great future if they continue working to a comprehensive technical plan that includes longer preparation periods and playing more international matches.

"Last year we played official and friendly matches against big teams such as Brazil, Japan and Oman, games which provided good experience for the players.

"The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) has provided a lot to enable the team to reach this level, and PFA President General Jibril Rajoub is the biggest supporter of this young team, and that will give the players added motivation.

"There are some players in the team who are not 18 yet, and this makes our U-23 team a good source of talent for the national team, and it is something which will help us create a stronger Olympic team in the future.”

Photo: PFA