The ray of hope for war-torn Syria of qualifying the first ever World Cup berth faded into darkness after they were handed a 3-2 aggregate defeat by a Tim Cahil-led resolute Australian side. After holding Australia to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, a spirited Syrian football team started the second leg vibrantly but submitted to a relentless Socceroos challenge and lost the game 2-1 in extra time. Although the Syrian players lost the race to secure a World Cup 2018 berth, but with their commendable performances throughout the qualifying rounds they will be going back home with their head held high.
In the second leg against Australia, Syria took an early lead with Omar Al Somah’s goal in 6th minute but it lasted short as Australia’s Tim Cahill scored an equaliser just after six minutes. A comparatively weaker Syrian team maintained their shape throughout the game and soaked in the barrage from a havoc-wrecking Australian football team. The Asian players held the opposition till 90 minutes of the game but things turned around after the game entered into extra time. Mahmoud Al Mawas was shown the red card in 94th minute as a 10-man Syria fell prey to Tim Cahill’s second goal of the game.
Australia was dominant by a mile as they controlled more than 75% of the ball possession and completed at least 4 times more passes than Syria. As Syria crashed out of contention to secure a spot in World Cup to be held in Russia in 2018, Australia’s hopes are still alive. Socceroos will face one of the team in the United States, Panama or Honduras in the final playoffs. Syria lies in Group E of World Cup qualifying round and sits at second spot behind group leaders Japan.