Syria keeps World Cup dream alive with draw

Steve Phelps
September 7, 2017

Syria breathed life into their World Cup qualification quest with a last-gasp equalizer against Iran on Tuesday, but Iranian women, who continue to be banned from their national stadiums, were denied entry to the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

Syria will likely play their "home" match against Australia in Malaysia, as they have during Asian qualifying, due to the ongoing war, as per the Sun.

A 3-1 "home" victory against Qatar on Thursday - the game had to be staged in Malaysia due to the civil war - meant a win against Iran would guarantee Syria a playoff place, although if South Korea failed to beat Uzbekistan, the Syrian team would qualify for Russian Federation 2018 automatically.

In the standing table of World Cup Qualifying AFC Group A, South Korea is in the second place with 14 points whereas Uzbekistan is in the fourth place with 12 points.

In Group B, Australia beat Thailand 2-1 in a nervous performance.

Coach Ange Postecoglou, who led Australia to the Asian Cup title in 2015, brushed off questions about his future while admitting he was "not everyone's cup of tea". "I was close to tears - never before have I felt so defeated and humiliated", said Nazar-Ahari in an interview.

Social media users hit back that the Korea Football Association had advertised tickets for weeks and had called on fans to get behind the team by cheering.

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"The team has an entirely new aspect", he added. "We also hope that he can offer his football philosophy and rich experience to China".

The team going to the World Cup guarantees stable sponsorship deals for the national football governing body.

Defeat in Uzbekistan could see the 2002 semi-finalists fail to make it to the global showpiece for the first time since 1982 if third-placed Syria manage to pull off a massive shock and win in Tehran Tuesday.

South Korea's fans, however, feared the worst.

"Yes we have men challenging the difficulties and everything to bring joy to us and here they are one step from qualifying for the World Cup", one post read.

The top two teams in each group go directly to the World Cup, and the third-place teams go into a playoff for a shot at an intercontinental qualifier.

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