Syrian joy as football World Cup dream lives on

Japan into World Cup beating Aus

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

"But we wanted to make our voice heard by the officials". Who scored?! SOMAH! It had to be SOMAH!

Coach Shin Tae-Yong, who took over from the sacked Uli Stielike in July, said he had not yet had enough time to mould the team into his favoured "offensive" football. "For me, the Syrian team's qualification would give me more pleasure than if my (army) service was ending", the young man told AFP by telephone.

In a country that has been ravaged by an ongoing civil war - an estimated 400,000 Syrians have been killed, according to the United Nations - the national football team has provided the nation with a narrative of sporting success against all the odds.

Not all players were clearly pro-government supporters.

Despite an incredible 45 shots on goal, the Socceroos couldn't find the margin against Thailand at AAMI Park that would have seen them overtake the Saudis on goal difference - meaning a win by any score for the home side would have done the job.

In Eastern Ghouta, a group of football fans gathered in a farm to watch the game while others followed from home.

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.

"This team, we support it and we don't support it", said Ghaith al-Sayyed, a young resident of the town of Binnish in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Big screens were erected in public squares in the capital Damascus for public screenings and fans also packed into coffee shops and sports halls to watch the broadcast from Iran. State-run television, which is planning to broadcast the game live, has lined up special programs for the event.

On social media, some predicted that Iran, which has already qualified for the tournament, may let Syria win the match based on the political alliance of the two countries.

Halilhozic made four changes to the team that started against Australia, picking veteran midfielder Keisuke Honda despite knowing he lacked match fitness having not played a great deal since arriving at Mexican club Pachuca.

If Korea has another draw, their advancement will depend on the result of the match between Syria and Iran.

Clerics demanded that the date was changed but Federation Internationale de Football Association turned down a request to move it forward claiming that South Korea would not have enough time to recover from their previous match against Qatar.

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