Syria’s soccer team keeps World Cup dreams alive

by WorldTribune Staff, September 6, 2017

Syria’s national soccer team continued its improbable run in World Cup qualifying on Sept. 5 with a 2-2 draw against Iran.

Syrian players celebrate a goal against Iran in their Sept. 5 match. / Getty Images

Iran had taken a 2-1 second half lead and seemed headed for victory when Syria scored in injury time, a goal that kept alive Syria’s hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Omar Al Soma, returning to the team after a five-year absence, scored the tying goal deep into stoppage time.

With its country mired in a six-year civil war, Syria’s team was not given much chance of advancing.

Also stacked against the Syria side was the fact that it could not play its home matches in Syria due to the ongoing conflict. Syria plays its home matches in Malaysia, a 14,000-mile round trip.

After its draw with Iran, and South Korea’s goalless draw with Uzbekistan, Syria was able to claim second place in Group A in the Asian section.

Syria will play Australia in a two-match Asian series next month. To make the World Cup, the winner will then have to beat a team from the Concacaf confederation covering north and central America, and the Caribbean.

The soccer team’s key draw with Iran came on the same day Syrian troops reached Deir el-Zour, in eastern Syria, breaching a months-old siege on government troops by Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists.

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