Syria seek win to soothe pain

Syria seek win to soothe pain



(Tuesday, 7.45pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)

Hundreds of thousands have been killed, millions have been made refugees.

Amid rumours of chemical weapons being used against civilians, daily atrocities such as kidnap, rape, torture and mutilation have been rampant for at least two years now as Syria remains mired in a civil war between government forces and rebels.

Yet, like a bloom in the desert, the Syria national football team have given their countrymen a reason to smile.

For sure, the Red Eagles are no world-beaters.

Ranked 143rd in the world, they are just 16 positions above Singapore, and in recent times, Syria have lost to lower teams such as India and the Maldives.

The turmoil back home had also led to the suspension of the national league in 2011, and the country's top players went abroad for opportunities to play - 21 out of the 23 players here in Singapore for Tuesday's Asian Cup qualifier ply their trade out of Syria.

There is also a story about a promising Under-23 goalkeeper Abdelbasset Saroot, who lost his home, brother and uncle and survived three attempts on his life, and became a marked man on the run from Syrian authorities for being a leader of the rebels in battle-scarred Homs.

Forget the luxury of a smooth astroturf playing surface like the one at Jalan Besar, Syria cannot even play at their home ground Abbasiyin Stadium in capital Damascus due to security reasons.

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