FIFA praises Syrian team’s “outstanding” performance at AFC play-off

Zurich, SANA – The Syrian national football team won wide acclaim for its performance in the World Cup qualifying play-off, with the recent praise coming from the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA).

In a report published on its official website, the FIFA said that despite the sad end of Syria’s dream of a place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia with defeat against Australia in the second leg of the AFC play-off 1-2, but the “outstanding performance heralds a better future for Syrian football.”

The report noted that the Syrian team’s exploits have been a source of joy for many of their weary compatriots, who have had to endure a devastating war and great loss of life since 2011.

“The enormous support shown by the Syrian fans to their national team throughout the qualifiers was striking proof that football can do the impossible and break down the kind of barriers that divide a nation,” the report said.

The FIFA said in the report that despite the disappointment of the extra-time defeat to Australia, not to mention the post denying Omar Al Soma in the dying minutes, “Syria can look to the future with optimism after their outstanding performance throughout the campaign.”

“Hopes are high that the team can perform even better ahead of Qatar 2022 and perhaps even make it to the first FIFA World Cup to be played in the Middle East,” the FIFA’s report added.

It went on saying that “Despite the mixed emotions, Syrian fans should be proud that their team has proved themselves capable of taking on the bigger sides and getting results. They must now hope that their team can go all the way to Qatar 2022 after nine unsuccessful attempts to reach the World Cup.”

The report pointed out that the team’s coach Ayman Hakeem and his charges proved they were up to the task by almost snatching a direct spot to Russia 2018 during the final match day. They would eventually finish third in Group A, earning them a play-off with Australia. And while the Australian team duly triumphed, the Qassyoun Eagles-named Syrian team proved beyond doubt that they are a competitive side.

It is noteworthy that the Syrian team played twenty games in the Russia 2018 qualifiers, all away from home. Their campaign started on 11 June 2015 and saw them post nine wins, five draws and six defeats.

M.al-Frieh/H. Said

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