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AFC Asian Cup update: Palestine, Japan, and more advance to knockout rounds

Over the past few days, there have been several decisive games at the AFC Asian Cup.

Palestine’s victory a source of joy

The story of the week so far has been Palestine’s victory over Hong Kong, a victory that secured them a place in the knockout rounds. The team beat Hong Kong 3-0 on Tuesday, in front of 6,500 Palestinian fans, CNN reports. This is the first time Palestine has advanced to the knockout stages of the AFC Asian Cup.

According to NPR, the victory has been a source of hope for Palestinians amidst Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

“We were so happy and the result was incredible,” Waleed Abdullah told NPR. “The Palestinian people need hope, want something to be happy about, to feel alive, to want to love life.”

Japan advance but are second fiddle to Iraq in Group D

Japan, considered by some to be the tournament favorites, advanced to the knockout stages but came second in the group to Iraq. The team beat Indonesia 3-1 on Tuesday.

Head coach Hajime Moriyasu said the victory was important after the team was defeated by Iraq in their second group-stage match.

“After losing to Iraq we looked back to see what we need to improve and fix. My players were focused and able to perform at 100%,” Moriyasu said per the Guardian. “I asked my players to be more aggressive from the start. The early penalty allowed us to control the game for 90 minutes.”

Iraq beat Vietnam in their final group-stage match, making it the first time in history the team has won all three of its group-stage matches.

Heung Min Son and South Korea must get the job done on Thursday

South Korea and their captain, premier league superstar Heung Min Son, are not over the line yet. The team is in second place in Group E behind Jordan. The two teams are level on points (4) but Jordan has a better goal differential. Bahrain is also close behind with three points.

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