Coach Remains Focused as Lebanon Starts WC Qualifying on Neutral Ground

Lebanon’s coach Nikola Jurcevic expressed regret over playing the team’s first home match in 2026 World Cup qualifying outside the country due to the Israel-Hamas war, but stated that the players were very focused for the game against Palestine in United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

Due to the ongoing conflict, the match was moved from Beirut to a neutral venue in the United Arab Emirates.

Originally scheduled to be played in Beirut, the match was moved to the Khalid bin Mohammed Stadium due to the situation in Israel.

Following their match in the UAE, Palestine will face Australia in Kuwait on Nov. 21.

Jurcevic expressed satisfaction with the team’s preparations, stating, “I see that the Lebanese national team players are in a state of high concentration and have exceptional enthusiasm for tomorrow’s match.”

These matches mark the start of the second phase of qualifiers for the expanded 48-team 2026 World Cup, with Asia having eight guaranteed berths and a possible ninth available through an intercontinental playoff.

The top two finishers in each of the nine groups will advance to the third phase.