Palestine lose 4-0 to Japan in first Asian Cup match

Yasuhito Endo scores a goal for Japan against Palestine
Gamba Osaka's Yasuhito Endo scored Japan's first goal

Palestine lost their first Asian Cup match, suffering a 4-0 reverse to Japan in Newcastle, Australia.

Yasuhito Endo, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda scored before in the opening 45 minutes, with Southampton's Maya Yoshida heading in the fourth.

Despite the scoreline, a small contingent of Palestinian fans in the 15,497-strong crowd waved flags and beat drums throughout the match.

Palestine's next game is against Jordan in Melbourne on Friday.

Palestine, whose team was recognised by Fifa in 1998 despite lacking full member-state status at the United Nations, qualified for the tournament for the first time by winning the Asian Football Confederation's Challenge Cup in May.

Defender Tamer Salah said that their participation is as much about politics as it is about sport.

"Our people they just want to send a message for all over the world; we are human beings. It is our right to play football and we are not terrorists," he told the BBC.

More than 20 years of on-and-off peace talks with Israel have failed to secure an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Palestine are 115th in Fifa's world rankings, 61 places below Japan. Fellow Group D rivals Jordan and Iraq are 93rd and 114th respectively.

Japan fans at the Asian Cup
Australia is hosting the Asian Cup for the first time after joining from the Oceania region nine years ago
Palestine fans at the Asian Cup
A small contingent of Palestinian fans in the crowd waved flags and beat drums throughout the match