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1940 Mandatory Palestine v Lebanon football match

Mandatory Palestine v Lebanon
אצטדיון המכביה בתל אביב 1935 - iדר דוד עופרi btm233.jpeg
The Maccabiah Stadium (pictured in 1935) held the match
EventInternational friendly
Date27 April 1940
VenueMaccabiah Stadium, Tel Aviv
RefereeJohn Blackwell (England)

The 1940 association football match between the national teams of Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon was the latter's first official international match, and the former's last before they became the Israel national team after 1948. The match took place on 27 April 1940 at the Maccabiah Stadium in Tel Aviv. Officiated by John Blackwell of the British Army, the game was watched by 10,000 spectators and ended in a 5–1 victory for the home side.

Mandatory Palestine scored in the second minute of the game, doubling their lead 10 minutes later with a penalty kick. Two more goals by the home side meant the first half ended 4–0. Mandatory Palestine's forced substitution at half-time due to injury hampered their control of the game and in the fifth minute of the second half, Lebanese forward Camille Cordahi scored to become Lebanon's first official international goalscorer. Werner Kaspi scored his second goal of the game in the 60th minute, with the match ending 5–1.

Lebanon's next official games were all friendlies against Syria, one in 1942 and two in 1947. In 1948 the Mandatory Palestine national team formally became the Israel national team, with the establishment of the State of Israel. They played their next official game in a friendly against Cyprus in 1949. Out of Lebanon's 11 players, six went on to play at least one more international game. Shalom Shalomzon was the only Mandatory Palestine player to make another international appearance.


A torn yellow ticket with text in English and Hebrew
A ticket for the Mandatory Palestine v Lebanon match

During the 1930s, Lebanon was a regular destination for friendly tours by football clubs in Mandatory Palestine. Teams such as Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Petah Tikva, and Maccabi Haifa regularly played teams from Beirut, Tyre, and Sidon. At the end of 1939, Lebanese Football Association (LFA) chairman Jamil Sawaya visited family in Jerusalem and Jaffa. Sawaya had friendly relations with several presidents of Palestinian football clubs, especially with the president of the Palestine Football Association (PFA). During his visit to Jerusalem, Sawaya met with the PFA president where they arranged a friendly match between the national teams of Lebanon and Mandatory Palestine in Tel Aviv.

Plans were announced in late March 1940 for a four-team football tournament with the national teams of Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon, and teams from the British Army in Palestine and the French Army in Lebanon. However, with the two armies put on alert in mid-April in anticipation of the Battle of France, the tournament was called off and only the match between Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon went ahead.

The game was set for 27 April 1940 at the Maccabiah Stadium, located on the banks of the Yarkon River estuary in Tel Aviv. On the eve of the game, the Mandatory Palestine players, mostly Jewish, were invited to tea and cake at a café on Rothschild Boulevard. They were told that each player had to go to the locker room at the stadium on their own. The players did not train for the game and, in the small dressing room, 14 received the light-blue-and-white kit.

Arthur Baar, an Austrian football coach, was in charge of selecting the Mandatory Palestine team, sending out the call-ups to the players. Baar became the de facto coach as Egon Pollak, the team's coach at that point, was spending time in Australia. On the day of the match, Baar invited Armin Weiss, Maccabi Tel Aviv's coach, to serve as the acting coach of the game. Weiss accepted the task, giving the Palestinian players a pre-match talk, and instructing them from the sidelines during the match.


The match was Lebanon's first official international game, and proved to be Mandatory Palestine's last. Mandatory Palestine had previously played and lost four official games, all FIFA World Cup qualifiers (two in 1934 and two in 1938). Lebanon, on the other hand, had only played a few unofficial games prior, against clubs from Romania (CA Timișoara and Unirea Tricolor București) and Austria (Admira Vienna). The stadium was decorated with the flags of both nations, and around 10,000 spectators came to watch, many of whom were British. The referee was John Blackwell of the British Army.


Two football teams lining up
The line-ups of Mandatory Palestine (left) and Lebanon (right) before the match
Camille Cordahi running towards the camera, with another player standing in the background
Lebanese forward Camille Cordahi, who scored Lebanon's first official international goal

In the first half, Mandatory Palestine played against the wind. In the second minute of the game, Mandatory Palestine right winger Herbert Meitner scored against Lebanese goalkeeper Nazem Sayad. This was followed by a penalty kick by Avraham Schneiderovitz in the 11th minute, doubling the advantage for the home side. Although the Lebanese team began to respond offensively, they failed to score against goalkeeper Binyamin Mizrahi, who made several saves. Mizrahi was especially cheered by the crowd for his two saves in the 18th and 23rd minute. Mandatory Palestine regained control of the game later in the first half and in the 31st minute Gaul Machlis scored Mandatory Palestine's third goal. He was assisted from the left wing and ran around the defence to score into an empty goal. In the 40th minute Werner Kaspi, the Mandatory Palestine captain, scored a solo effort, with the first half ending 4–0. Mizrahi saved eight shots from Lebanon in the first half, several drawing "wonder from the crowd", whereas goalkeeper Sayad was described as having "had much work".

The second half was more balanced; Lebanon played against the wind. Mandatory Palestine centre-half Zvi Fuchs was replaced at halftime by left-back Lonia Dvorin following an injury, and left-back Yaacov Breir moved up to centre-half. The change hindered Mandatory Palestine's control of the game. Lebanese forward Camille Cordahi scored against Mizrahi in the 50th minute, with Muhieddine Jaroudi providing the assist; Cordahi was Lebanon's first official international goalscorer. A few moments after the goal, Jaroudi crossed the ball to the center, with Mizrahi getting low and comfortably collecting the ball. Lebanon tried to attack twice more, before the offensive momentum passed to Palestine. In the 60th minute Kaspi scored his second goal of the game. After the goal, the Lebanese coach asked Mandatory Palestine coach Arthur Baar to go easy. Baar later stated that the Lebanese coach had sought to maintain good relations between the two countries, and asked not to defeat them in a harsh manner. The home side began to pass the ball back and forth, and won by a final score of 5–1.

The match was Lebanon's first international, and their first defeat. Mandatory Palestine's win was their first (and only) in a match before they became the Israel national team after 1948.


Mandatory Palestine 5–1 Lebanon
Attendance: 10,000
Mandatory Palestine
GK Binyamin Mizrahi (Beitar Tel Aviv)
RB Shalom Shalomzon (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
LB Yaacov Breir (Hapoel Haifa)
RH Zalman Friedmann (Hapoel Tel Aviv)
CH Zvi Fuchs (Maccabi Tel Aviv) downward-facing red arrow 46'
LH Haim Reich (Hapoel Tel Aviv)
OR Herbert Meitner (Hapoel Rishon)
IR Zvi Erlich (Hapoel Tel Aviv)
CF Werner Kaspi (c) (Beitar Tel Aviv)
IL Avraham Schneiderovitz (Maccabi Nes Tziona)
OL Gaul Machlis (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
GK Asi Asher (Hakoah Tel Aviv)
LB Lonia Dvorin (Beitar Tel Aviv) upward-facing green arrow 46'
CF Peri Neufeld (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
Arthur Baar
PAL-LBN 1940-04-27.svg
GK Nazem Sayad (Tripoli)
RB Yeghishe Darian (DPHB)
LB Antoine Sakr (DPHB)
RH Guiragos (Homenetmen)
CH Toufic Barbir (DPHB)
LH Salah Falah (Hilmi Sports)
OR Muhieddine Jaroudi (Hilmi Sports)
IR Nercesse (DPHB)
CF Camille Cordahi (DPHB)
IL Oksen Ourfalian (Homenetmen)
OL Jerard Ajemian (Homenetmen)


Gaul Machlis running towards the camera
Palestinian forward Gaul Machlis running towards the goal

The Palestine Post described the match as "rather one-sided" and stated it had not lived up to expectations, with the home side both physically and technically superior. In general, it wrote, the Mandatory Palestine team played efficiently throughout the whole game; exceptions being the two full-backs (Shalomzon and Dvorin), who were not deemed up to par in the second half. Despite the scoreline, Mandatory Palestine goalkeeper Mizrahi had been kept busy. With his two goals, captain Werner Kaspi became the first player of the Israel national team (Mandatory Palestine's successor) to score a brace. Following the game, commentators expressed surprise regarding coach Arthur Baar's decision to exclude Peri Neufeld from the match, given that he was one of "Palestine's most prominent players at the time".

Although the Palestinian forwards scored five goals between them, Lebanese goalkeeper Sayad made many saves, several "brilliantly", and played very well; "[t]he goals that did get past him would have beaten any custodian", the Post wrote. HaBoker added: "The Lebanese goalkeeper doesn't bear any responsibility for the five goals and he's not to blame for them". Lebanon's front line was their "weakest link", the Post continued, with centre-forward Cordahi and outside-right Jaroudi being the only two "up to international standard". Although Lebanon's midfield was not "very effective", their back line played particularly well, especially Yeghishe Darian at right-back.

After the game, Palestinian fans enthusiastically waited outside the locker room to greet the players. The last two players to come out of the stadium were Dvorin, who supported his injured teammate Fuchs. Both walked to the Hadassah Hospital for Fuchs to receive treatment. The two coaches agreed for another friendly match, to be held in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1941. However, the match never came to fruition.

Lebanon's next official matches were all friendlies against Syria—one in 1942 and two in 1947—losing all three games. Israel did not play their first official match under their new identity until 1949, in a friendly against Cyprus, although they played an unofficial match against the United States Olympic team in 1948.

Regarding Palestine's 12 players involved, the match was the only appearance for eight (Mizrahi, Breir, Fuchs, Meitner, Erlich, Kaspi, Schneiderovitz, Dvorin), and the last cap for three (Friedmann, Reich, Machlis). Shalomzon, who debuted in the game, would become the only player of the match to go on to make an appearance for the Israel national team—albeit unofficial—playing in the 1948 friendly against the United States. As for the two unused substitutes, Neufeld's only two international caps were in the 1938 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where he scored once, whereas Asi Asher would ultimately never be capped at international level, neither for Mandatory Palestine nor for Israel.

The game was the only cap for five of Lebanon's eleven players (Sayad, Guiragos, Barbir, Nercesse, Ourfalian). Three players went on to play another game against Syria: Sakr and Falah on 19 April 1942, and Darian on 4 May 1947. The remaining three players played two more friendlies, all against Syria: Cordahi on 19 April 1942 and 4 May 1947, Jaroudi on 19 April 1942 and 18 May 1947, and Ajemian on 4 May 1947 and 18 May 1947.

See also

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