Philippines broke local hearts in the capital Male with Chris Greatwich scoring the decisive goal for a 3-2 extra-time win in front of an 8,000 capacity crowd at the National Stadium.
The eight-nation tournament is a biennial event for Asia’s second-tier nations with Tajikistan, India and Korea DPR the previous winners.
Victory would be a new high for either nation. West Asian nation Palestine have only been affiliated to FIFA since 1998. The Philippines, for their part, have been rejuvenated in recent years under first Michael Weiss, and more recently former USA captain Thomas Dooley.
There will be a dual prize on offer in Friday’s final with the winner to book the last remaining ticket on offer to January’s AFC Asian Cup in Australia.
The 15 nations to qualify so far are Australia as hosts, defending champions Japan, Korea Republic and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, along with Bahrain, China PR, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.
The 16 finalists will take part in a 23-day tournament commencing on 9 January in Melbourne, and concluding in Sydney on 31 January.