AFC Asian Cup

How Syria qualified for AFC Asian Cup 2023

Alen Philip MathewAlen Philip Mathew

May 28 2023
Syria AFC Asian Cup 2023 Road to Qualification

Syria will play against India, Australia and Uzbekistan in the event.

The 16th edition of the AFC Asian Cup is set to take place in January and February of 2024 in Qatar. Syria have been drawn into Group B with Australia, Uzbekistan, and India. It is a tough group, but Syria’s qualifications showed that they are capable of pulling off surprises.

The Syrian team won seven out of their eight matches in the second round group stage, with their only defeat coming against China. Syria won both their matches against the Philippines, Maldives, and Guam and managed to win one match against China (2-1). Syria started their qualification campaign with a 5-1 win over the Philippines but ended it with a defeat against China. Despite this loss, Syria managed to finish at the top of the group with 21 points, two clear of second-placed China.

The win over China in their first clash put Syria in a good position to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup. The match against was played in the United Arab Emirates, and it was a closely-fought affair. Syria took the lead in the first half but soon, Wu Lei equalized for China. In the second half, Syria stepped up. With time running out, China netted an own goal and secured the win for Syria.

Here is a more detailed look at Syria’s qualification road to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

Round 2 (Phase – 1)

W, 5-2 vs Philippines

The Syrian Men’s National Team opened their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022/AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qatar Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 campaign with a 5-2 win against Philippines on 5 September 2019 at Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. Syrian striker Omar Al Somah scored a double for his team while teammates K. Mobayed, Firas Al-Khatib and Mahmoud Al-Mawas added one goal each. The Philippines, on the other hand, managed to score two goals through Javier Patiño and Mike Ott. Striker Patiño opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a powerful shot that left the Syrian goalkeeper helpless. The Syrians responded well and found an equalizer from Omar Al Somah in the 14th minute.

Omar Al Somah Syria AFC Asian Cup 2023
Syrian forward Omar Al Somah. (Courtesy: The National)

Syria gained the lead before half-time when midfielder Mobayed scored from close range. The second half saw Syria take control as they continued to dominate possession and created better chances. They extended their lead when Firas Al-Khatib scored from the spot in the 48th minute. The Philippines tried to get back into the game, but Syria remained composed and looked dangerous on the counter-attack.

Al Somah scored his second in the 55th minute to make it 4-1 for Syria. However, the Philippines kept fighting and got a goal back in the 83rd minute, thanks to substitute Mike Ott. Syria sealed the victory in the 85th minute with a goal from Mahmoud Al-Mawas. The match ended 5-2, a deserved win for Syria, who showed their attacking prowess throughout the game.

W, 2-1 vs Maldives

The Syrian national team secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Maldives in a qualifier match on October 10, 2019 at the Rashid Stadium in United Arab Emirates. The Syrians dominated the early stages of the game, but the Maldives defence held firm, frustrating the Syrians with some excellent defending. However, the deadlock was broken in the 26th minute by Syrian Striker Omar Al Somah, to put his team in front.

The second half was a more evenly contested affair, with both teams playing with more caution and trying not to make any mistakes. However, the Syrians found the net in the 60th minute when forward Omar Al Somah scored his second from close range.

The Maldives responded positively, pushing forward in search of a goal, and they got their reward 10 minutes later when forward Ali Ashfaq converted a goal make it 2-1. The Maldives tried to fight back, pushing forward in search of an equalizer. However, they struggled to create clear-cut chances against a resilient Syrian defence, and the game ended 2-1 in favour of the Syria.

W, 4-0 vs Guam

Syria AFC Asian Cup 2023
Al Somah celebrates one of his goals against Guam. (Courtesy: The National)

In a dominant performance, Syria secured a 4-0 victory over Guam in their World Cup qualifier match held on October 15, 2019. Syria started the game on the front foot, controlling the possession and dictating the tempo. They took an early lead in the third minute when their captain Omar Al Somah scored from a well-orchestrated team effort. Their second goal came in the 24th minute minute. It was Omar Al Somah again as he unleashed a powerful strike that found its way into the net. Omar completed his hat-trick and Al-Mawas completed the rout.

W, 2-1 vs China

In their World Cup Qualifier match on November 14, 2019, Syria managed to defeat China by a decisive 2-1 margin at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, UAE. In the early first half, Syria dominated possession and created several scoring opportunities, but were unable to capitalize. China, on the other hand, played a much more defensive game and tried to hit Syria on the counter-attack, but they too struggled to create many chances.

Syria finally broke the deadlock as they were rewarded with a goal in the 19th minute from Osama Omari. China responded quickly, with a goal from Wu Lei just 11 minutes later. Syria, however, secured victory in the second half with Zhang Linpeng slotting an own goal in the 76th minute.

Round 2 (Phase – 2)

W, 1-0 vs Philippines

Syria defeated Philippines in their World Cup Qualifiers match on November 19, 2019, at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium, UAE. The match began with both teams showing an equal display of skill and determination to gain an early lead. However, the only goal of the game was scored by Al Salama in the 23rd minute as the Syrian calmly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper.

W, 4-0 vs Maldives

Syria AFC Asian Cup 2023
A glimpse from the game. (Courtesy: Tekkers)

The Syrian national football team secured a comfortable 4-0 victory over Maldives in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match on 4th June, 2021 at the Sharjah Football Stadium in UAE. Both teams started the match with a sense of urgency, but it was Syria who looked the stronger side, controlling most of the play and constantly creating chances.

The breakthrough came in the 29th minute when Syrian Striker Al Mawas scored the first. The second goal came four minutes later when Aias Aosman scored from the spot. Syria tripled their lead in the dying minutes of the first half when striker Al Mawas scored another. The fourth goal came in the 71st minute when Al Mawas completed his hat-trick.

W, 3-0 vs Guam

Syria earned a comfortable victory over Guam in their World Cup 2022 qualifying match. The match took place at the Sharjah Stadium in the United Arab Emirates and saw Syria dominate throughout the game. The Syrians dominated proceedings from the outset of the game and in the fifth minute, Mardik Mardikian scored a well-placed goal to put Syria ahead. Syria made it 2-0 four minutes later when Mardikian netted again.

Following these two goals, Guam struggled to find their footing and were unable to create any dangerous chances in the first half. With a comfortable lead in hand, Syria continued to press forward, but Guam defended well to keep the scoreline respectable. In the 84th minute, Al Mawas put the result beyond doubt with a third goal, which ensured that Syria took all three points from the match. The Syrians’ display was impressive and showed their dominance over their opponent.

L, 1-3 vs China

Syria AFC Asian Cup 2023
A glimpse from the game. Wearing #4 for Syria is Fares Arnaout who plays for FC Goa in India. (Courtesy: Xinhua)

In a crucial match for both teams, hoping to secure a spot in the 2022 World Cup, Syria suffered a 3-1 defeat against China in the match played on 15 June 2021. The match started off in tense manner with both teams fighting hard for early dominance. Despite some promising attacks from Syria, it was China who managed to take the lead in the 43rd minute. A well-placed goal from Chinese midfielder Zhang Xizhe put the Dragons ahead.

Syria tried to bounce back immediately, but missed a few opportunities to equalize before the break. They came out stronger in the second half, with some attacking changes made by their coach.

Syria managed to pull one back soon after, courtesy a beautifully struck goal from Aias Aosman. This gave them some hope of a comeback but it was China who managed to score next. Wu Lei took a penalty and converted it to make it 2-1. Later, China sealed the win in the dying minutes of the match as Zhang Yuning scored in the 93rd minute. Overall, it was a deserved win for China who showed more composure and clinical finishing in front of goal.

The middle-east nation performed strongly, overall. They scored a total of 22 goals during the group stages, with forward Omar Al Somah leading the way for them with seven goals to his name. The team’s solid defence also played a key role in their success, as they conceded just seven goals in eight matches.

As per the rules of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers, the top eight teams from the second round of qualifiers directly qualify for the Asian Cup 2023, and Syria was one of these teams. They finished at the top of Group A in the second round, with seven wins and a solitary loss. This placed them in the top eight teams and helped them qualify directly for the Asian Cup 2023.

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