Syria drub Maldives for sixth straight win - GulfToday

Syria drub Maldives for sixth straight win


Players of Syria and Maldives in action during their Asian qualifiers for the World Cup 2022 on Friday. Courtesy: AFC website

Mahmoud Al Mawas scored a hat-trick as Syria cruised to a 4-0 win over the Maldives at Sharjah Stadium on Friday to put them on the verge of securing top spot in Group A of the second round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

Syria have one foot in the third round of qualifying as Mawas was joined on the scoresheet by Aias Aosman as Nabil Maaloul’s side effectively wrapped up the three points inside the first half to them their sixth win in as many matches and a comfortable eight-point cushion over China at the top of Group A.

A win in their next game – against already-eliminated Guam on Monday – will ensure Syria finish in first place in the group and advance to the next phase of the competition.

The Syrians were dominant right from the early exchanges with Mouhamad Anez and Alaa Al Dali trying their luck from distance and Aosman also forcing Maldives goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal into action.

Mawas looked set to open the scoring 25 minutes into the game when he rounded Faisal, but his goal-bound shot was coolly collected on the goal line by central defender Akram Abdul Ghani before being thumped clear.

It only took another four minutes, however, for Syria to take the lead, with Al Mawas making no mistake this time.

Mohamad Al Hallak flew down the right flank and fired his low cross towards the far post on the left side and Mawas confidently applied the finishing touch.

Four minutes later, Syria doubled their advantage with Abdul Ghani the offender this time as the Maldives captain’s foul on Al Dali resulted in Aosman firing his side’s second high into the net from the penalty spot.

Still the Syrians came forward, Faisal throwing himself at full stretch to push away Al Dali’s header six minutes from half time before another indiscretion from Abdul Ghani saw Syria awarded a second penalty in first half injury time.

The central defender’s clumsy challenge on Mawas ended with the Syrian playmaker on the ground, and the Romania-based midfielder picked himself up to score his side’s third.

Syria’s Youssef Mohammad crashed his long-range shot against the crossbar on the hour mark and, with 18 minutes to go, Mawas scored with his side’s third penalty, rolling the ball home after Mohamed Saaif’s foul on Kamel Hamisha to complete his hat-trick.

Mouaiad Al Ajaan’s sending off five minutes from time for two bookings in quick succession was the only blot on a successful night for the Syrians.

“Thankfully we got the win in the first official match for this technical staff with the Syria national team,” said Head coach Nabil Maaloul on Twitter.

“These were three very important points on the road to qualifying for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. We hope that what is coming next will be better.”

Only the group winners are guaranteed to advance to the next round, with the four runners-up with the best records also due to go through. However, should Qatar – who have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022 as hosts – win Group E, five teams with the best runners-up records will progress.

The group A matches were initially supposed to be played in the Chinese city of Suzhou but the Asian Football Confederation moved them to Sharjah earlier this week after coronavirus infections in the Syria and Maldives teams.

According to reports, the Maldives and Syria were denied permission to depart Dubai for China. The matches double up as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup in China.

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