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Ones to Watch: Omar Khribin (Syria)

Kuala Lumpur: It has been a mixed 12 months for Syria’s Omar Khribin, from losing the 2017 AFC Champions League final, to winning the AFC Player of the Year Award a few days later, to coming within a whisker of reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup. His next challenge? The AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

Syria were very close to making the FIFA World Cup for the first time, but they fell in the Continental playoff, with Australia going on to become Asia's fifth representative in Russia 2018. A "golden generation" spearheaded by Khribin and his strike partner Omar Al Somah looks to make amends in UAE 2019.

Nationality: Syria
Date of birth: 15/01/1994
Position: Striker
Current club: Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia)
Previous clubs: Al Wahda (Syria), Air Force Club, Al Mina’ (Iraq), Al Dhafra (UAE)

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International Background

Khribin was a key part of the Syria side that reached the quarter-finals of the AFC U-22 Championship in 2013. By that time, he had already made his senior debut aged 18.

Khribin’s first international goals came against Iraq in two separate friendlies in 2013. However, it was from 2015 onwards that he really established himself as a top player within Syria and beyond.

During the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification, Khribin scored 10 goals for his nation including a brace against Qatar which helped The Eagles of Qasioun into the play-off round, which they lost to Australia 3-2 on aggregate.

Style of play

Khribin is a versatile forward who can play anywhere across the attacking positions, but he excels the most when playing as a second striker. His quick movement, aerial abilities and clinical finishing were on display as he scored 10 goals to emerge as the 2017 AFC Champions League top scorer.

Syria’s German head coach Bernd Stange often deploys Khribin as an auxiliary forward behind Al Somah, allowing him to make runs from deep and get in scoring positions.

What to look for

After missing out on the 2015 edition, Syria are eager to advance past the group stage for the first time in their history. Khribin and co find themselves in Group B alongside reigning champions Australia and neighbours Palestine and Jordan.

Where and when to watch him

Syria v Palestine
Venue: Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah
Kick-off: January 6, 20:00 UTC+4

Syria v Jordan
Venue: Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Kick-off: January 10, 17:30 UTC+4

Syria v Australia
Venue: Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain
Kick-off: January 15, 17:30 UTC+4

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