Aljomaa: Do it for Syria
© Foto-net

Mohamad Aljomaa today challenged his players to defeat England for the sake of the nation. The Syria coach is eager to see his team reach the semi-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup and has consequently charged his squad to 'win at all costs' ahead of the match in Jeju on Thursday evening.

Syria are in confident mood going into the Round of 16 clash at the FIFA World Cup Stadium. After holding Argentina to a goalless draw in their opening match, they were denied a point against European champions Spain through Daniel Aquino's goal in added time.

Now boosted by a 2-0 victory over Honduras which sealed their progression to the knockout phase of the competition, Aljomaa has his sights firmly set on victory over the Three Lions.

"I am going to tell the players to do it for their country, to do it for the flag," he told FIFA.com. "I know that the players will be motivated when they take to the pitch - they will be full of running, full of heart and pride for our country.

"Every player loves Syria. We are united team - and they have a lot of courage. All of them have a winning mentality. They will do anything to win. The staff and the players are 100 per cent behind each other and we have a great sense of togetherness.

"In my opinion, football is 50 per cent technique, tactics and preparation and 50 per cent heart and team spirit. I think we have both and certainly enough to win against England. That's what I am going to tell them - play, win and do anything you can to win."

Against England, the west Asians will be coming up against a side in confident mood following their 2-1 victory over Brazil. The result ensured that John Peacock's charges topped Group B and Aljomaa is anticipating a close encounter.

"It will be a very tough match," the Syrian coach continued. "England are strong tactically, technically, physically, but they also have pace. Plus, they have good players in their squad. It won't be easy for us, but we are preparing well.

"Before coming here, I looked closely at all of the teams in the competition. Obviously, we were drawn in a group with Spain and Argentina, but I didn't worry about that. I looked at how they played - and prepared my team accordingly.

"But it's not just about preparing the team; it's about preparing each individual player to make sure they are ready. I know what my best team is to face them. Two of our players are suspended for this match, but that won't be a problem to us."

Ahmad Alsalih and Tamer Haj Mohamd are the players to miss out after receiving two bookings in the group stages, but they will be cheering from the stands, just like the country's 19 million-strong population back home.

"People in Syria were dancing in the street after our win on Saturday," smiled Aljomma. "They were beeping their horns of their car and waving flags - they love football and they love their country. They are going to be right behind us against England.

"Now it is up to us get past the second round, and the quarter-finals."