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Syria’s Al Khatib announces retirement

Beirut: Syria's all-time top scorer Firas Al Khatib has announced his retirement from professional football.

Al Khatib announced the end of his playing days on his Twitter account, saying: “After 26 years which I can never forget, I announce my complete retirement as a player and hopefully, the future will be better.”

The 36-year-old forward's announcement came just days after Syria national team head coach Fajr Ibrahim had said that Al Khatib does not feature in his plans any more.

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Al Khatib said in an interview recently that he had decided to retire from football entirely.

“I have been thinking of retirement for a month now and people advised me not to,” he added. “For me I think what I have done is enough.”

Al Khatib, however, hinted he is open to a role in football, either in coaching or as an analyst.

Head coach Ibrahim confirmed last week that Al Khatib will not be part of Syria's squad for the next round of Asian Qualifiers' matches for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

“The match against Philippines in the first round of the Qualifiers which Firas took part in and scored was the last match for him with the national team,” said Ibrahim.

“I had a friendly meeting with Firas and we agreed that his retirement is close and he can’t play for the national team, especially as he is currently without a club,” he added.

Born in Homs, Al Khatib started his football career with his hometown club Al Karamah before making a name for himself in Kuwait after playing with Al Arabi, Kuwait SC and Al Salmiya. He also had a short spell with Shanghai Shenhua in China.

He played his first international match in 2001, going on to become Syria's all-time top scorer. His effort against the Philippines was his 36th international goal.

Syria will play their next two Asian Qualifiers Group A ties against Maldives on October 10 and Guam five days later.

The West Asians opened their campaign with a 5-2 win over the Philippines. China PR are the fifth team in the group.

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