World Cup qualifying: Syria beat Qatar to keep hopes alive


Syria play their home matches in Malaysia

Syria earned a vital 3-1 win against Qatar to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for a first ever World Cup.

Omar Kharbin scored in each half and Mahmoud Al-Mawas added a third in injury time as Syria moved above Uzbekistan into third in their group.

The top two teams qualify automatically for the 2018 World Cup in Russia while the third-placed side face a play-off.

Defeat for Qatar means they cannot qualify and will make their World Cup debut as the host nation in 2022.

Syria play group winners Iran in Tehran in their final group match on Tuesday and will be guaranteed a two-legged play-off against the third-place team in Group B with victory.

But they could yet finish second and qualify directly for next year’s tournament depending on the result of the match between South Korea and Uzbekistan.

South Korea could only manage a goalless draw against 10-man Iran on Thursday and defeat in their final match could see them fail to qualify for the finals for the first time since 1982 should Syria beat Iran.

China could also still take third place and a play-off spot if they beat Qatar in Doha on Tuesday and other results go their way.

Meanwhile, in Group B, Japan beat Australia to qualify for their sixth successive World Cup.

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