Al Soma: Syria's early Asian Cup exit was a blow
Damascus: Striker Omar Al Soma is still bitterly disappointed with Syria's group stage exit from the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, describing it as one of the most difficult moments of his career.
Syria headed into UAE 2019 on the back of a fabulous run in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Qualifiers, losing to Australia in the Confederation Play-off, but finished bottom of Group B of the AFC Asian Cup after collecting only one point from a goalless draw with Palestine in their opening match before losing 2-0 and 3-2 to Jordan and Australia respectively.
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Speaking in an interview with Sama TV, the 31-year-old Al Soma said there were a lot of expectations and the early exit was very hard to deal with.
“I can’t forget what happened in the Asian Cup,” said Al Soma. “It was very difficult for all of us because of what happened in our matches and the high hopes that we had.
“There was a lot of criticism because of the bad results that we had,” he added. “Personally speaking, I think that we can only blame ourselves for these results.”
Al Soma, who has been playing his club football with Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli since 2014, said the early exit from the Asian Cup gave them a lot of lessons and this has helped Syria in the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Syria are currently top of Group A of the Asian Qualifiers after registering five victories from as many games with Al Soma playing an important role with seven goals.
“I think our fans are satisfied with our performance in the Asian Qualifiers,” he said. “We are leading the group and our run is perfect.
“I believe one of the reasons behind our success in the Qualifiers is that the players learnt a lot of lessons from our Asian Cup experience and they are giving their best in representing our country.”
Al Soma is hoping newly appointed head coach Nabil Maaloul of Tunisia (pictured above) continues the success that Syria had with the outgoing Fajr Ibrahim.
“Fajr Ibrahim had great success with the national team and gave a lot to Syrian football. I hope that we can continue with the same ambition and success with the new head coach."
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