- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

NEWCASTLE, Australia (AP) - The Palestinian players had plenty of support in their Asian Cup debut, even though Japan scored all the goals.

The Palestinians qualified for the continental tournament by winning the AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives. On Monday, the team’s fans cheered wildly in a 4-0 defeat to defending champion Japan in the opening Group D match.

The Palestinians did not yield a goal in advancing to Australia, but goals from Yasuhito Endo, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda put Japan ahead early. In the second half, Maya Yoshida scored another.

Said Palestinian striker Mahmoud Dhadha said. “We cannot make these mistakes again against the other teams.”

The Palestinians’ best chance came in the 81st minute when defender Abdallatif Albahdari sent a header narrowly wide.

They play Jordan in Melbourne on Friday and face Iraq in Canberra on Jan. 20.

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