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AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Syria and UAE chase first victory


Amman: Syria and the UAE will be targeting their first win of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar when they face-off on Matchday Two of Group A on Tuesday.

The UAE dominated from the start to finish on home turf but they could not find a breakthrough in their campaign opener against Lebanon even as Ali Mabkhout rounded the goalkeeper but struck the woodwork instead, leaving his side to walk away from Zabeel Stadium with a point, not three.

For Syria, the trip to Azadi Stadium looked set to be a stalemate like the other two games in the group, but the Qasioun Eagles’ defences caved in after 56 minutes with Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s curled effort deflected off a defender and into the back of the net for IR Iran’s winner.

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Coach Bert van Marwijk’s men were without the services of two key midfielders for long spells of their previous encounter as Abdalla Ramadan and Khalfan Mubarak were deemed only fit enough for late cameos, instead it was youngster Abdullah Hamad who was handed his debut against the Cedars. The Al Jazira duo are set for an expanded role against Syria as they recover from injuries.

Fellow midfielder Ali Salmin played the whole 90 minutes on Thursday and is determined to fight harder to get the three points against Syria.

AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Islamic Republic of Iran 1-0 Syria

“Only one match is gone, there are still nine more to go, 27 points to compete for,” said Salmin.

“We must fight hard to get as many points as possible to boost our chances of reaching the FIFA World Cup. For us, and for all UAE football fans, this is a long-awaited dream.

“We are fully aware how strong Syria are, we are fully focused on this match and we show respect to every opponent we face, but our objective is always to get the three points.”

In turn, Syria boss Nizar Mahrous bemoaned his side’s narrow defeat to IR Iran as “undeserved”, vowing to make amends.

“It is imperative for us to win, to get the three points against the UAE,” said Mahrous.

“We need to bounce back from that result. We are ready; players and coaching staff are all raring to go again. The UAE are a good team with talented individuals, but we are playing in our adopted home and expect a lot of Syrian fans to be present in Amman.”

AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: United Arab Emirates 0-0 Lebanon

The two sides faced twice in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers with the UAE unable to win over the two legs. A 1-1 draw in Syria was followed by a 3-1 victory for the Qasioun Eagles in the UAE’s own home turf.


Syria v United Arab Emirates
Venue: King Abdullah II Stadium (Amman)
Kick-off: Tuesday, 19:00 (UTC+3)

*Poll ends at 23:00 hours (UTC+8) on September 7

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