With the World Cup 2018 qualifiers in full swing, the 2018 World Cup is getting closer and closer.
Eight teams have already qualified: Mexico, Belgium, Russia, Brazil, Iran, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. With several teams still looking to qualify, one country in particular is gaining media attention with their potential Cinderella story.
After a 2-2 draw with Iran on Sept. 5, Syria is nearing closer and closer to qualifying for their first ever World Cup.
This is a very big deal for Syria, as this could potentially mean their first appearance ever in a World Cup. Before the 2-2 draw against Iran, Syria beat Qatar 3-1, ensuring that Qatar would not qualify and that Syria got the crucial three points they needed.
Even though Iran has already qualified, Syria is playing with everything they have for their country.
But even before this, Syria almost did not have a full roster.
The team is forced to play their games away from home due to conflicts, and political divisions almost stopped some players from participating at all.
Some players refused to play as protest to the awful action of Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime.
Stadiums in Malaysia have graciously offered the team a place to play while a small group of loyal fans do what they can to travel and support the team.
Despite these odds, the team has prevailed and are so close to clenching World Cup qualification.
This team has overcome six years of civil war and political unrest, so qualifying for this tournament could help resolve problems and help promote peace in the country. The team is currently third in the Asia qualifying group A and is tied on 13 points with Uzbekistan.
This now means that Syria will have to play Australia in a playoff match in order to qualify for next year’s tournament in Russia, and then play a Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONFACAF) side in a two-legged tie to solidify a place at the World Cup.
Knowing what the beautiful game can do for people if Syria does qualify, I hope it helps end or at least cease some of the political unrest that is happening in the country.
Luke Stergiou can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org