Syria take on Australia in the first leg of continental play-off for 2018 FIFA World Cup at Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca, Malaysia on Thursday, October 5.
The Qasioun Eagles are eyeing history as they are trying to make their first-ever appearance in the final round of a FIFA World Cup. The side will also be featuring in their fourth round of the qualifying campaign for the first time after finishing third behind Iran and South Korea in the third round, which ended last month.
Ayman Hakeem's men have brought joy to a war-torn nation in Syria with their inspiring performances. A World Cup debut would mean a lot to Syrians, who are desperately in need of something positive following the armed-conflict that has been affecting the country over the years.
Syria, 75th on Fifa rankings, will take on the fourth-placed team that qualifies from the Concacaf region if they manage to beat Australia in the upcoming two-legged continental play-off.
However, they have to be at their best to stand a chance of testing the visitors, who missed out on a direct qualification due to goal difference after finishing third behind Asian heavyweights Japan and Saudi Arabia in Group B of qualifying third round, on Thursday.
Syria in fine form
Syria can take heart from their performances towards the end of the third round. The West Asian country's chances of progressing to the next round looked bleak after they had scored only two goals in their first seven matches. However, Hakeem's side buckled up and hit seven goals, including the two in their draw against powerhouses Iran in Tehran last month.
Key men to watch out for
The comebacks of Omar al Soma and Firas Al Khatib to the national side earlier this year have transformed Syria into a lethal side. While they were known for their defensive discipline, the return of the strike duo has added firepower to the frontline.
Notably, Al Soma scored the crucial injury-time equaliser against Iran that helped Syria keep their dreams of earning a Russia berth alive. The 28-year-old has acknowledged the support his team has been receiving from across the globe. He added that Syria will give their best against Australia in the two-legged qualifying tie.
"Australia are one of the best teams in Asia; they are very physical and good from set-pieces, but we must try to do our best in this game. Everybody wishes that we play in the World Cup. It is the dream of the Syrian players and all the players in the world," Al Soma said, as quoted by AFC's official website.
Australia, the reigning Asian champions, will be wary of the threat Syria poses at their adopted home in Malacca. The Qasioun Eagles are yet to lose a match at their new venue where they will be looking to gain a crucial upper-hand ahead of the return leg on October 10.
When does the match start and how to watch it live
Syria vs Australia will start at 8:30pm local time, 6pm IST, 12:30pm GMT.
Live streaming and TV coverage
International live streaming: The AFC Hub YouTube Channel
Australia: TV: Fox Sports 501; Live streaming: Foxtel Now
Syria: TV: beIN sports; Live streaming: beIN Sports Connect
Indonesia: TV: Fox Sports Indonesia
Malaysia: TV: Fox Sports Malaysia
US: TV: ESPN 3; Live streaming: Watch ESPN
China: TV: Star Sports 2 China