HONG KONG (Reuters) - Omar Khrbin struck twice as Syria notched up a 3-1 win over Qatar that ended the 2022 World Cup hosts’ hopes of qualifying for next year’s finals while ensuring their own attempt to reach Russia stays alive for at least one more game.
Qatar will become the first hosts in the post-World War Two era to make their debut appearance at the World Cup on home soil after a disappointing campaign that has seen them amass just seven points out of nine games so far.
Al Hilal striker Khrbin gave Syria the lead in the seventh minute when he struck from outside the area, but 10 minutes before the break Ali Assadalla levelled for the Qataris as they sought the win required to keep their slim hopes alive.
Nine minutes after the restart, however, Khrbin ensured those chances were dismissed completely when he smashed his shot past Saad Al Sheeb, beating the goalkeeper at his near post with a fierce shot.
Mahmoud Al Mawas scored five minutes into injury time for Syria to put the result beyond doubt.
With one game remaining, Felix Sanchez’s side cannot finish in one of the two automatic qualifying places for Russia or take third place in the group, which brings with it a place in a series of playoffs.
Syria’s victory in a “home” match played in Malaysia kept them in contention to seal their first-ever appearance at the World Cup, however.
Forced to play all of their “home” matches on neutral venues due to the ongoing security situation at home, the Syrians have proven to be remarkably resilient and the win moves them into third place in Group A, ahead of Uzbekistan on goal difference.
Syria face Iran, who have already qualified for next year’s finals, on Tuesday in Tehran and victory over Carlos Queiroz’s side could be enough - should other results go their way - to secure a place in Russia next year.
Reporting by Michael Church, editing by Nick Mulvenney