Syria pursuit of soccer history alive after draw with ally Iran

Even then, they had to rely on already-qualified Iran to stave off a desperate Syria in their 2-2 draw in Tehran to be assured of nabbing the second automatic berth to Russian Federation and secure a ninth straight appearance at the World Cup finals.

The hopes of the United Arab Emirates evaporated with a 1-0 loss to Iraq thanks to Aymen Hussein's goal while China's chances of appearing at the World Cup went the same way despite a 2-1 win over Qatar.

The Saudis join Iran, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Belgium and hosts Russian Federation in the 32-team tournament, which will take place from 14 June-15 July.

Syria have incredibly qualified for the World Cup 2018 play-offs.

Australia's Tomi Juric, right celebrates scoring against Thailand during their World Cup Group B qualifying match in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Sept. 05.

A third user posted: "Other teams will pray, "Please make us meet South Korea in the tournament".

Syrian soldier Saeed Ereiji, 34, who wore the national team's shirt over his military pants, could hardly contain his joy.

However, a goal from Sardar Azmoun just before halftime drew the sides level in Tehran, and Iran's goalscorer then got his second early in the second half to put the hosts in front. But they still managed strong performances against some of Asia's best teams, earning draws with South Korea and Iran in previous qualifiers.

Russian Federation 2018 will be the fifth appearance for Saudi Arabia in the FIFA World Cup finals after qualifying for the first time back in 1994.

Syria will likely play its home match against Australia in Malaysia, as it has during Asian qualifying, due to the ongoing war.

Although South Korea's elimination in the World Cup qualifying tournament wouldn't have meant immediate termination of sponsorship deals, since a lot of them are contracted through 2019, the KFA would have had a hard time renegotiating the deals and would perhaps have had to settle for reduced amounts.

Al Somah's goal meant so much that a match commentator broke down in tears during the celebrations.

But the stage to which the Syrian footballers have reached in the recent games is against all odds, with the difficulty of the training and the lack of good atmosphere with their country being ripped by a seven-year war.

Big screens were erected in public squares the Syrian capital Damascus for public screenings and fans also packed into coffee shops and sports halls to watch the broadcast from Iran.

  • Stacy Allen