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West Bank: Palestine picked up a potentially priceless point after shutting out a UAE side that had fired ten past Malaysia in their previous Group A fixture, as Abdulnasser Barakat’s side played out a goalless draw in their 2018 FIFA World Cup/2019 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifier against the 2015 AFC Asian Cup semi-finalists on Tuesday.

Barakat had earlier stated that his side didn’t fear Mahdi Ali’s eye-catching side, who consigned Malaysia to their heaviest ever defeat, and proclaimed his charges were well-prepared to deal with the UAE’s plethora of attacking riches when the two sides met at the Faisal Al Huseini Stadium.

And the 43-year-old former national futsal team coach proved true to his word as 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, kept a clean sheet to take their points tally to four from three matches.

The UAE lead the Group A standings with seven points, one more than second-placed Saudi Arabia, whose match against Malaysia was abandoned due to crowd incidents, with the UAE’s Gulf rivals leading 2-1.

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.