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The starting eleven for Syria pose for a group picture

*Qualification history *
Syria first tried to qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ in 1950 and later came extremely close to bagging a ticket for Mexico 1986. Since then, the Syrian national team has not managed to advance to the final Asian qualifying round. The Red Eagles’ last attempt, for South Africa 2010, ended badly, as the use of an ineligible player against Tajikistan in the second round led to their disqualification.

The team
Although the Syrians gave their fans something to cheer about by making it to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and by winning the 2012 West Asian Football Federation* *Championship, they have understandably struggled in recent times, due to the ongoing internal conflict in their homeland. Consequently, they failed to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup, recording just one victory in six matches. A younger, emerging generation of Syrian footballers, one that has secured a remarkable qualification for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015, does offer some hope for the future, however.

The coach
*Ayman Hakeem took the reins of the Syrian national side in mid-2016, taking over from Fajr Ibrahim - who had a number of spells in charge of the Qasioun Eagles. Hakeem is intent on building on the work of his predecessors. “We’re putting the finishing touches to the work carried out by the coaches before us," Hakeem told *
. "We need to be tactically disciplined as well as combative, and that’s made the difference."

The stat
*7 – *The number of times that Japan and Syria have faced each other, with the West Asians registering just one draw and six defeats.

The former stars
Abdul Kader Kardaghli, Walid Abu Al-Sel, Nizar Mahrous, Mohamad Afash