Nervous Aussies win, maintain hope for direct World Cup spot


Syria needed a win or a tie Tuesday against Iran to keep its World Cup hopes alive.

But Al Soma, who returned from a self-imposed five year exile from the national team against Qatar last week, had other ideas.

"Our team is ready to achieve victory and qualify Syria for the first time to the World Cup", Muwaffaq Fathallah, the chief administrator of the Syrian team, said by telephone from the Iranian capital ahead of the crucial game.

A 91st minute Omar Khrbin penalty secured a 1-0 win against Uzbekistan while Ahmad Al Saleh's curling free kick three minutes into added time salvaged a point against Marcello Lippi's China as the Syrian bandwagon gained momentum. They were disqualified from qualification for fielding an ineligible player.

The hoped-for winning of the Syrian team against Iran in their final group match coupled with the possibility of the defeat of South Korea by Uzbekistan in the final round would be the magic potion for the Syrian team to secure the second spot and direct entry to the next year's tournament in Russian Federation.

With Uzbekistan and South Korea deadlocked and the fourth official preparing to lift up the board indicating injury time, Syria looked out of contention, with the Uzbeks set to take the playoff spot.

The war-torn country has not been able to play a single game at home throughout the campaign.

Troopers on patrol for unsafe drivers this weekend
The rate of these crashes climbed more than 50 percent over the three-day Labor Day weekend past year . Sheriff's deputies and troopers also will have extra patrols and a checkpoint set up over the weekend.

As a result Australia will now go into a Round 4 and face Syria over two legs in October.

Sardar Azmoun levelled for Iran on the stroke of half-time after Ibrahim Alma tipped Mehdi Taremi's header on to the bar, and the Rubin Kazan forward doubled his tally in the 64th minute when Taremi flicked on Ehsan Haji Safi's long throw.

In World Cup 2014 qualifying, it was disqualified after the first round for fielding a player, George Mourad, who had played for Sweden's U-21 team and had not petitioned Federation Internationale de Football Association to switch national teams.

The politics of Syria's World Cup run has not been lost on anyone.

Jubilant soccer fans celebrated after Saudi Arabia qualified for next year's World Cup, with many rallying behind Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's reform program that promotes sports in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

South Korea's rise to the World Cup completes the agenda of the seven World Cup winners (Russia, "host country", Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, Iran and finally the South Korean team).