Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers: Qatar ready for key test against Syria
30 Aug 2017 - 1:45
By Chinthana Wasala / The Peninsula
Qatari football team arrived at the Melaka Airport in Malacca, Malaysia yesterday, ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifier against Syria which will be played at the Hang Jebat Stadium tomorrow.
A strong Qatari side was announced by coach Felix Sanchez on Monday for the remaining two qualifiers against Syria and China.
While both Qatar and China are no longer in the equation for automatic places in the World Cup, they still have a slim chance at third place and a route through the play-offs, but both teams should record victories in tomorrow’s matches.
Fourth-placed Syria are four points behind Korea and three off Uzbekistan, in Group A, with two more matches to be played. They have not yet lost a game at their designated home venue in Malaysia and recently recalled powerhouse forward Omar Al Soma to the side for tomorrow’s tie against Qatar.
Qatar will meet China on September 5 in their final Group match.
Qatar’s skipper Hassan Al Haydos has had a strong influence on the national side in recent years and the 26-year-old has a strong line-up for tomorrow’s away match. Anyway, two of the most promising stars in the Qatari side, Rodrigo Tabata and Sebastian Soria will not be in action in the two remaining qualifiers.
However, the Qatari side is also aware of what the Syrian team is capable of. Syria, who could present a number of surprises, including their talented forward Omar Khribin, can pose a huge threat to Haydos’ men in unfamiliar territory.
Khribin is arguably one of the most exciting forwards to emerge from the gulf nations in recent times and he is also the top scorer for Syria in the second round of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.
The Qatari team took to Malaysia after defeating Turkmenistan 2-1 in a friendly match following an extensive training camp in Birmingham, England earlier this month.
They played three friendly matches under English conditions and beat Leeds United 2-0, Andorra 1-0 and lost to Nottingham Forrest 1-2.
Following the completion of group stage of 2018 Qualifiers, the third placed teams will play each other in a two-legged play-off in October with the aggregate winner facing the fourth-placed team from the Central and North America (CONCACAF) qualifying in November.