Commentator bursts into tears as Syria reach World Cup playoff

07 September, 2017, 02:08 | Author: Devin Moran
  • South Korea's national football team coach Shin Tae-yong listens to questions during a press conference at Bunyodkor Stadium in Tashkent on Sept. 4 2017 one day ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between South Korea and Uzbekistan

Posted: Sep. 4, 2017 7:00 am Updated: Sep.

Australia's Tomi Juric, right celebrates scoring against Thailand during their World Cup Group B qualifying match in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Sept. 05.

Iran took first with an impressive 22 points, winning six, drawing four and losing zero of their ten games. Iran qualified for the tournament unbeaten to finish top of Group A with 22 points.

"It is not that we didn't want to score", Shin told reporters in Tashkent.

But the stage to which the Syrian footballers have reached in the recent games is against all odds, with the difficulty of the training and the lack of good atmosphere with their country being ripped by a seven-year war.

The sport is the most popular in the country, as it is in much of the Arab world.

The national team will play against Iran in Tehran on Tuesday.

Al-Soma has only just returned to the squad after a five-year absence, having been living outside Syria without expressing support for the opposition.

In World Cup 2014 qualifying, it was disqualified after the first round for fielding a player, George Mourad, who had played for Sweden's U-21 team and had not petitioned Federation Internationale de Football Association to switch national teams. The rest play for teams in China, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman.

Al-Khatib, who played for Kuwaiti team Qadsia and later Al-Arabi, will be returning to his mother club of Al-Karamah in the central city of Homs.

"They are happy to be in the stadium and cheer for their national team".

The next day, the ISNA news agency said the stadium website had been hacked, with a banner placed across the front page for several hours saying: "Let Iranian women enter their stadiums".

For residents of rebel-held areas of Syria as well as those under government control and in the autonomy-seeking Kurdish territories, triumph in Tehran would bring a welcome respite from a brutal conflict which has cost more than 330,000 lives.

"This is the team of the regime, not the team of our nation", al-Shami said.

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.


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