Road to World Cup fever unites war-divided Syrians

Posted September 06, 2017

Syria's heroics also extinguished China's faint hopes of reaching only their second World Cup, despite snatching a 2-1 win over 2022 hosts Qatar thanks to Wu Lei's late victor.

Down 2-1 going into stoppage time, it looked like the dream was dead. With another 0-0 draw against Iran, Korea maintains second in the Group A standing, two points ahead of Syria and Uzbekistan.

The Syrian football team is only one victory away from having the chance of qualifying for the World Cup, which could be the first qualification to such high-profile event in the history of the Syrian soccer team, reports Xinhua news agency.

After the final night of Asian qualifiers, South Korea and the Saudis joined Iran and Japan by sealing their trips to Russian Federation, while Syria and Australia finished third in their groups to go into the play-off series. The first match on October 5 will be played at a yet-to-be announced neutral venue before the Syrian team travels to Australia for the return leg on October 10.

The Socceroos' World Cup nightmare has come true after Saudi Arabia's 1-0 win over Japan denied them direct qualification and forced them down the arduous intercontinental play-off route.

But anything less will complicate the picture, especially with both Uzbekistan and Syria sitting just two points back in Group A of the final Asian qualifying round.

Another woman, Zahra Jafarzadeh, said she bought a ticket even though she does not really like football.

Finishing third in group B will mean Ange Postecoglou's side will have to qualify for next year's tournament through two playoffs, the first of which is against third position in group A - now Syria on 12 points.

Iranian authorities have blamed a "technical glitch" after female football fans were given hope that they could watch the men's national team. It was there, the side qualified for the 2002 World Cup.

Despite that, reports before the game suggested the national team had offered a ray of hope to a country divided, with TV screens erected across the capital Damascus.

"Syrians here wish to watch the match, and to support the team that bears the image of their murderer on their shirts!"

"For this reason", Ain continued "many people in Syria hate sport and consider it purely a divisive political entity, rather than a sporting entity that brings people together".

While many wanted South Korea to reach the World Cup for the ninth straight time, the Korea Football Association (KFA) was probably the most desperate to see it happen.