Rafat's search for greatness inspired by compatriot Soma
Kunshan: Syria striker Mohamad Rafat is aiming to follow the example of senior counterpart Omar Al Soma as he attempts to ignite his nation’s challenge for the AFC U23 Championship China 2018.
The Syrians fell to a 3-1 loss at the hands of Australia in their opening game in Group D of the competition, but the Al Ittihad striker will attempt to channel the lessons learned from playing alongside Al Soma - Syria’s three-time leading goal scorer in the Saudi League - when he faces off against Korea Republic on Sunday.
“I had a few chances from the high balls,” said the 23-year-old forward. “I try to use my height for these crosses, but I wasn't lucky enough to score.
“But I look to national team player Omar Al Soma, who is known across all of Asia for his ability with the high ball. I played next to him in the national team and he is a great role model.”
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The loss to the Australians coupled with Korea Republic’s victory over Vietnam in the other game in Group D has left the Syrians needing a positive result when they take on Kim Bong-gil’s team in Kunshan.
The difficulty of the task against a nation with a strong track record of success in age group tournaments in Asia is not lost on Rafat, but he is confident he and his teammates can put on an improved performance.
"This is football, if you don't score then you will concede, we couldn't capitalise on the chances we got specially in the second half," he said of the loss against the Olyroos.
"But there is still hope for us. The match is over and now we have to think about the next matches against Korea Republic and Vietnam. We hope we get good results in these two matches.
"The Korean team is considered among the strongest teams in Asia and we expect them to be tough and frustrating opponents, but nothing is impossible for us. We can get through against Korea and Vietnam to qualify from the group.”