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West Bank: Head coach Abdulnasser Barakat remains undaunted by the prospect of facing a UAE side that consigned Malaysia to their heaviest ever defeat as Palestine welcome the 2015 AFC Asian Cup semi-finalists to Faisal Al Huseni Stadium for Tuesday’s 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifier.

The UAE swept aside the Malaysians 10-0 while Group A rivals Saudi Arabia also enjoyed a goal-fest as the three-time Asian champions defeated Timor Leste 7-0 on Matchday 3 last Thursday, when Palestine were not in action.

“These big wins for the UAE and Saudi Arabia were natural because of the technical differences between the teams,” said Barakat, who admitted that the Emiratis’ resounding win over the Malaysians in Abu Dhabi gave him enough information on how to prepare his team against Mahdi Ali’s enterprising and entertaining outfit.

“We don’t feel afraid of the UAE after their big win against Malaysia as the match gave us a good idea about how to face them,” continued the 43-year-old.

“Their power is in their offence and they have many key players such as Omar Abdelrahman, Ali Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil. As we are playing at home and in front of our own fans we will try to force our own style and try to prevent them from scoring.

Palestine, who qualified for the AFC Asian Cup finals for the first time in their history after winning the last edition of the AFC Challenge Cup to book their place at Australia 2015, have made an impressive start to their campaign to reach the next edition of the continent’s flagship tournament.

A Mohammed Al Shawali strike three minutes into second-half stoppage time denied them a point from their opening match against Saudi Arabia in Jeddah before Barakat’s side hammered Malaysia 6-0 on the road, with Palestine’s impressive win in Kuala Lumpur a sign of things to come for the South East Asians, who will be looking to stem the flow of goals when they entertain Saudi Arabia in Tuesday’s other Group A fixture.

The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup.

Photo: AFP