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Syria to face Australia in World Cup hunt as Saudis qualify

07 September, 2017, 01:32 | Author: Carla Brady
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WAR-TORN Syria have incredibly qualified for the World Cup 2018 play-offs.

Syria's utterly inspirational journey toward qualifying for their first ever World Cup was kept alive in the most dramatic of circumstances on Tuesday evening.

"Our match against Iran has already happened", Lee Dong-gook said to the team before their departure to Uzbekistan on Friday.

A double from Sardar Azmoun looked to have given Iran all three points until Al Soma - playing only his second match for Syria since his return from a self-imposed exile - slid the ball through Beiranvand's legs to level deep into stoppage time.

The results left 2014 World Cup finalist Argentina and reigning Copa America champion Chile outside of the automatic qualifying places and sets up a nail-biting final two rounds of matches next month. Like Australia, the kingdom finished with 19 points but goal difference secured its team a place in the tournament. A Facebook page called Syria Team has over 100,000 followers encouraging the Syrian team.

"It's a pity that we couldn't win here, but I want to thank all fans here and South Korea that we're able to qualify for the World Cup with a draw", coach Shin Tae-yong said.

Qualification would be a striking achievement for a squad that can't play at home due to the war and whose members are vetted by the government. To the surprise of many, there was an option to purchase "women's tickets", which lots of fans snapped up when the tickets went on sale on Saturday.




Australia could at least be spared a trip to the Middle East with Syria, ranked No.80 in the world, having played their home matches in Malaysia during this phase of qualification.

But China's fortunes have risen since the arrival of Marcello Lippi last October, and officials praised the achievements of the Italian World Cup-winning coach.

In order to make it to Russian Federation the Syrians will have to make it past Australia in a play-off and after that they will have another match which could be against USA.

Under fire after being held 0-0 by 10-man Iran at home last week, they responded with another stalemate away to Uzbekistan on Tuesday.

Defeat in Uzbekistan could see South Korea fail to make it to the global showpiece for the first time since 1982.

Ange Postecoglou and the Socceroos are condemned to the World Cup playoffs.

Ibrahim Shaker, who plays in Binnish's local football club, was less accommodating.

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