September 5 – Malaysia has stepped in at the last minute to host Syria’s World Cup qualification group match against the Korea Republic tonight. Syria were left homeless last week after Macau’s withdrawal citing security concerns.
The Malaysians have no such concerns, they are also hosting Iraq’s home match against Saudi Arabia this evening on the other side of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Syria and Korea will meet in the Stadium Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Paroi, with the Syrians arriving having lost their opening game 1-0 to Uzbekistan, while the Koreans had a winning start against China, surviving a late onslaught from the Chinese to win 3-2.
Iraq, 2-0 losers to Australia in their opening match, face Saudi Arabia who beat Thailand 1-0, in the Shah Alam Stadium in Shah Alam.
Syria’s next scheduled home match is against Iran on November 15. Syria had arranged to play their five home qualifying matches in Macau, though Malaysia looks likely to be the host for all their home games now.
Syria, who played their last round home qualifying matches in Oman finished runners-up in their group behind Japan and advanced to the Final Round of qualifiers as the second-ranked. They beat Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Singapore on their way.
The World Cup 2018 campaign marks the first time Syria have participated in the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers since losing 3-1 on aggregate to Iraq in the campaign to reach the 1986 finals in Mexico.
The 12 teams in the final qualifying rounds for the Russia World Cup 2018 are divided into two groups of six. The top two teams in each group automatically qualify for Russia with the two third placed teams qualifying for a further play-off with the winner going through to the inter-confederation play-offs
All teams play their second matches today with Iran, Korea Republic and Uzbekistan equal on three points at the top of group A, while Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are equal on three points at the top of group B.
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