Mixed Reactions trail Syria’s World Cup Qualification Hopes

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A cross-section of Syrians and football fans have criticized President Bashar al-Assad regime’s Football propaganda tool. Syria has been involved in a brutal Civil war since 2011 with over 500,000 dead, millions of displaced Syrians and countless cities in ruins.

During Fifa’s world cup qualifications in September, Syria was on the brink of crashing out of the competition when a 93rd-minute equalizer against Iran was scored by Omar Al-Somah.

After returning a month earlier from a five-year exile that was self-imposed by Al Somah, Somah helped to secure a 3-1 win over Qatar.

At the end of the game in September, Somah infuriated many fans when he gave thanks to Syria’s Dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian defender Ahmad Al Salih and Captain Firas Al-Khatib, who had recently returned from a self-imposed 6-year exile, said any instability with the constant changes was overshadowed by the need for common national unity.

Players who have been absent for a long time like Al Somah require little time to adapt to the nature of the environment they are faced with, said Al Salih.

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Al Salih said the driving force behind the adaptability of his teammates is the determination to make Syrians happy and unite Syrians through football during the on-going Civil War.

He also said the length of time and experience shared between his teammates makes it easy to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses on the field of play.

In the Post-match comments, Al-Somah and Al-Khatib made inflammatory statements, claiming a non-political approach was adopted towards soccer and national sport by an Assad regime that used Sporting arenas to launch shells into civilian populated areas.

A compiled list that allegedly contains names of slain or incarcerated players was released by former player Ayman Kasheet; he further denies the claims of Al-Somah and Al-Khatib.

He queried how consideration can be given to a Team that carries the same flag as the planes that drop bombs every day killing children and scores of civilians.