The 'beautiful game' could have another beautiful story in the making
Last month, a dramatic last-minute equaliser saw the rebirth of a Syrian dream. Omar Al-Somah was the day's hero after a breathtaking game against Iran - the FIFA World Cup qualify group's unbeaten team - to achieve the unexpected, Syria were going to a play-off match against Australia. The country's supporters could not believe their eyes, even reducing an emotional commentator to tears, sending shivers down the spines of millions of spectators world-wide.
Against all odds, a war-torn Syria went from being one of the last-placed teams to serious contenders working their way past formidable squads from Uzbekistan, China and Qatar.
The playoff round will see them face a stacked-up Australian team. The fact that Syria has played all their games away from home, with no real preparation and with the political distortion going on in their country; to reach this stage itself is astonishing.
Halfway through this tale and the Qasioun Eagles have made it through successfully. Millions of football fans stand in line with the underdogs for their first leg against Australia today, which will be hosted by the Hang Jebat stadium in Malaysia. Winner of the 2-legs will find themselves facing qualifiers from the Carribean, possibly the United States.
“The important thing is that the team is determined to try and qualify for the World Cup,” Syria striker Omar Khribin told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “We have played against some very strong teams so far . . . We competed well against them and proved that we are also a strong team.”
Australia, which has qualified for four World Cups, including the past two in 2010 and 2014, will face a determined Syrian side looking towards making their first ever FIFA world cup feature.
“Australia may have many prominent players who are known for their individual talents, but we have the enormous potential that comes from performing as a group, as well as the individual skills of our players,” Syrian midfielder Mohammed Zaher Midani said.
With memories of a struggling, unexperienced Iraqi side winning the Asian cup back in 2007; the Syrians are ambitious towards bringing back the tickets to the Mundial.