After advancing further than ever in World Cup qualifying, the Palestinian soccer team is determined to host a game for a change.

The football association has proposed playing games in the third stage of its Asian qualification campaign in the West Bank and already has support from a number of its opponents, starting against Jordan on Sept. 10.

The Palestinian team progressed through the second round of continental qualifying for the first time in its history in June but, because of the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip, staged its ‘home’ games in nearby Kuwait and Qatar.

“Playing at a neutral venue isn’t permanent and was never meant to be so,” Susan Shabali, the PFA’s deputy president, told The Associated Press. “Faisal Al-Husseini is ready to host.”

The 12,500 capacity Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium is situated in the West Bank town of Al Ram. In 2019, it hosted the team’s last competitive home game, a World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia that ended 0-0.

“We hope that all goes well,” Shalabi said, adding that there’d been “no objections” from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, or the Asian Football Confederation.

Israel launched a major offensive in Gaza in response to an Oct. 7 Hamas attack into southern Israel in which around 1,200 people were killed and another 250 people were abducted.

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 38,000, according to health officials in Gaza, who don’t say how many were civilians or militants. The war has caused vast destruction across the territory, displaced most of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million — often multiple times — caused widespread hunger and raised fears of famine.

The Palestinian team’s success has been remarkable amid the ongoing war and the fact it has played dozens of games on the road since 2019, and the players have had to move for safety and seek overseas contracts.

While there is little soccer currently being played in the territory, most players in the Palestinian roster belong to clubs in foreign leagues. The most recent roster saw coach Makram Daboub select players based in countries including Sweden, Belgium, Libya, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan.

Mohammed Rashid, who plays club soccer for Bali United in Indonesia, told reporters in Perth last month ahead of the second-round finale against Australia that the hardest part of competing in international competition was not being able to play at home.

On June 27, the Palestinian team, currently ranked No. 95 in the world, was drawn in Group B of the third round which contains South Korea, Iraq, Jordan, Oman and Kuwait.

The top two from each of the three groups of six qualify automatically for the 2026 World Cup.

After the opening game in South Korea on Sept. 5, the Palestinians return to West Asia to take on Jordan five days later.

The Jordan Football Association issued a statement this week to “affirm its position in support of the Palestinian Football Association’s right to hold its home matches on its land and among its fans.”

“Jordan is proud to be the first team to face our Palestinian brothers in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on Palestinian territory,” the statement said.

The Oman Football Association also said it supported the PFA’s “legitimate right to hold official national team matches in front of its fans on home soil.” Kuwait earlier issued its support.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer