Syria falls short in bid for first World Cup tournament; U.S. ousted

by WorldTribune Staff, October 11, 2017

Syria’s underdog run in the FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament came to an end on Oct. 10 with a 2-1 loss at Australia.

Syrian players react following their World Cup qualifying loss to Australia on Oct. 10. / AP

Tim Cahill’s goal 15 minutes into extra time proved to be the clincher but war-torn Syria went out in dramatic fashion as Omar Al-Soma’s free kick crashed into the post with just moments to go.

Australia will face Honduras next month in a final two-legged playoff for a spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Syria’s improbable run toward a first World Cup captured global attention, which heightened after it fought to a 1-1 draw in the first leg against Australia last week. It was Syria’s home match, but was played in Malaysia due to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Syria’s chances grew dramatically after it took a 1-0 lead six minutes into in the return match in Sydney on Oct. 10. But Cahill’s goals in the 13th minute and in extra time secured Australia’s place in next month’s playoff against Honduras, the fourth-place team from North and Central America.

Syria coach Ayman Al-Hakim was full of praise for the courage of his team, which finished with 10 men after Mahmoud Almawas was sent off in the fourth minute of extra time after picking up a second yellow card.

“I am very proud of my boys with what they have achieved and that’s going to be continuing,” Al-Hakim said through a translator. “At the end there are mistakes in soccer. The players followed instruction very, very well. But the Australian goal happens because of the pressure of the Socceroos.”

Meanwhile, the United States was ousted from World Cup qualifying on Oct. 10 after a shocking 2-1 loss at Trinidad and Tobago.

The U.S. had only needed a tie to qualify for World Cup 2018. The Americans were last eliminated from World Cup qualifying in 1986.

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