Palestine starts well in qualifiers

Palestine beat Afghanistan 2-0 while the Philippines snatched an away draw at Sri Lanka as Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup got underway.

There were victories for Cambodia, Nepal and Mongolia in other first-leg games as Asia's smaller football nations kicked off the worldwide qualifying odyssey, three years out from the World Cup finals in Brazil.

Palestine's football team normally attracts its share of sympathy for the security and logistical difficulties it faces, but came up against an opponent with even more severe problems in Afghanistan.

The game was nominally the home leg for the Afghans but had to be played in Tajikistan due to the security situation in Afghanistan.

Murad Alyan opened the scoring for Palestine in the 28th minute and Ismail Alamour got the second in the closing stages of the second half.

Palestine will host the second leg on Sunday, with the aim of progressing to a second-round meeting with Thailand.

The Philippines will also be confident of reaching the second round after a 1-1 draw in Sri Lanka.

Chathura Gunarathna beat Fulham reserve goalkeeper Neil Etheridge to put Sri Lanka ahead in the 43rd minute, but substitute Nate Burkey brought the Philippines level in the 50th minute.

The result left the Philippines well placed to progress to a second-round match against Kuwait.

Cambodia recovered from conceding an early goal to win 4-2 at home against neighbouring Laos.

Ten-man Nepal struggled past lowly-ranked East Timor 2-1, with the winner to face Jordan in round two.

Mongolia won 1-0 at home against Myanmar, leaving both teams with hope of progressing to face Oman.

Australia commences qualification in round three in September.

Source AP