Back when the first ball of the 2006 AFC Champions League was kicked, even the most wildly optimistic of Al Karama fans would have blushed at tipping their side for a place in the final.
With every passing round, however, there has been a raising of expectations among these same Syrian supporters, who watched wide-eyed as their side dumped some of the continent's leading sides - including holders Al Ittihad - out of the competition. Steadily, Al Karama's previously unheralded collection of players and their miracle-working coach, Mohamed Kwid, became national heroes as they marched all the way to an unlikely final date with fellow outsiders Jeonbuk Motors.
Now, after a 2-0 first leg reverse in Korea Republic, the Syrians find themselves in a familiar position: written off. Kwid, however, told FIFA.com that his faith in Al Karama's talent and spirit remains unshaken, and insisted that he is backing his players to complete their latest and, arguably, greatest escape act to lift the trophy in Homs on Wednesday.
FIFA.com: Your side have enjoyed an astonishing run so far in this competition. Did you expect to see them go so far?
Mohamed Kwid: No-one did, but we took our job seriously and performed our duties step by step. Our ambitions certainly increased after we were able to trounce some of the big names of Asian football. I never told my players that I wanted to win the cup from day one, but after each victory I used to tell them: 'You are making history and you would be happy one day to sit with your grandchildren and tell them about your successful adventure in Asia'. But before that, they have to finish their job on Wednesday, because that would be an end to the story that the grandchildren would love to hear.
Given, however, that your opponents have a two-goal advantage, you must acknowledge that it will be a tough task?
It will be a hard fight. The Koreans are not only talented, they are also very well prepared physically compared to other teams that we have faced. To defeat them, we will need to be alert for 90 minutes.
What are your plans for the match?
I would prefer not to talk about my strategy or look too deeply into the game, but I have warned my players against making the silly mistakes that cost us dearly in the first game. This is especially important against Jeonbuk players, who are quite sharp in front of the goal.
You have urged Syrian fans to go to the stadium in numbers and support your team in the final. Are not you worried about the pressure that your players might face in such a situation, especially this is their first time to play the final of such a major competition?
I would like to see 40,000 fans in Khaled Bin Al Walid stadium on Wednesday - they will be the fuel of our players. We beat Al Ittihad 4-0 at home in the second leg of the quarter-final having been beaten 2-0 in the away match, and that was because of the support of our faithful fans. They steered us to victory. As for my players, I am not worried about them, they have the experience needed to handle such pressure. Maybe a lot of them are young, but they have won many trophies before and they know what to do when they are under the spotlight.
Obviously you do not lack motivation.
We are full of determination. We want to win this competition for the first time in our country's history and we hope to continue the dominance of Arab teams over this tournament. Naturally, we would also like to promote Syrian football by appearing in Japan (at the FIFA Club World Cup), which is a worldwide stage. I am sure that such incentives will be more than enough for my players to go out and win this competition.