Although the Lebanese Football Association was formed in 1934 – joining FIFA in 1935 – the national team only played their first FIFA-sanctioned game in 1940.
During the 1930s, Lebanon was a popular destination for Palestinian teams to play friendlies in Beirut, Tyre and Sidon. In 1939, the chairman of the Lebanese Football Association, Jamil Sawaya, visited his family members in Jerusalem and Jaffa. An agreement was signed regarding the visit of the Lebanese team in Jaffa for a friendly match against Palestine (then under the British Mandate).
In late March 1940, a plan was announced to arrange a four-team football tournament with the national teams of Mandatory Palestine and Lebanon, along with representative teams of the British Army in Palestine, and the French Army in Lebanon.
However, with the French and British Armies being 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 remained.
The game, played on 27 April 1940, was both Lebanon’s first international and Palestine’s last under British control. The game was held in Maccabiah Stadium, Jaffa. This match was played in front of 10,000 spectators – many of them were British – in a stadium decorated with both nations’ flags.
English referee John Blackwell officiated the game, with the home side wearing light blue and white, while the Cedars wore a white shirt, with black shorts.
Right from the first minute, Palestinian right-winger Herbert Meitner scored against Lebanese goalkeeper Nazem Sayadi. This goal was followed by another, a penalty taken by Avraham Schneiderovich in the 11th minute, doubling the home side’s lead.
At this point, the Cedars started to build momentum with their own offensive plays but failed to score past goalkeeper Benjamin Mizrahi. Later in the first half, Palestine regained control of the game, and by the end of the half, Gaul Machlis and Werner Kaspi had scored two more goals, ending the first half 4–0.
At half-time, Palestinian half-back Zvi Fuchs was replaced by Lonia Dvorin following an injury. The forced change hindered the home team’s control of the game, thus making the second half a more balanced game. In the 50th minute, Lebanese forward Camille Cordahi scored past goalkeeper Mizrahi, with Muhieddine Jaroudi providing the assist. Cordahi became the first official international goalscorer for Lebanon. However, 10 minutes later, Kaspi scored his second goal of the game.
Following the goal, the Lebanese coach asked Arthur Baar, the Palestinian coach, to go easy on the game in order to maintain good diplomatic relations between the countries. Thus, Palestine’s players began to pass the ball to each other, without any real attacking attempts, until the end of the match. The match finished in a 5–1 defeat for Lebanon.
Full match report: Mandatory Palestine vs Lebanon
GK | Binyamin Mizrahi (Beitar Tel Aviv)
BK | Shalom Shalomzon (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
BK | Yaacov Breir (Hapoel Haida)
HB | Zalman “Dzampa” Friedmann (Hapoel Tel Aviv)
HB | Zvi Fuchs (Maccabi Tel Aviv) (sub off 46′)
HB | Haim Reich (Hapoel Tel Aviv)
FW | Herbert Meitner (Hapoel Rishon)
FW | Zvi “Doctor” Erlich (Hapoel Tel Aviv)
FW | Werner Kaspi (Beitar Tel Aviv)
FW | Avraham Schneiderovitz (Maccabi Nes Tziona)
FW | Gaul Machlis (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
GK | Asi Asher (Hakoah Tel Aviv)
DF | Lonia Dvorin (Beitar Tel Aviv) (sub in 46′)
FW | Peri Neufeld (Maccabi Tel Aviv)
GK | Nazem Sayadi (Riyada wal Adab)
DF | Yeghishe Darian (D.H.P. / Sika Club)
DF | Antoine Sakr (D.H.P. / Sika Club)
MF | Guiragos (Homenetmen)
MF | Rashad Barbir (D.H.P. / Sika Club Beirut)
MF | Salah Falah (Hilmi Sports)
FW | Muhieddine Jaroudi (Hilmi Sports)
FW | Nercesse (D.H.P. / Sika Club)
FW | Camille Cordahi (D.H.P. / Sika Club)
FW | Oksen Ourfailan (Homenetmen)
FW | Jerard (Homenetmen)