Syria stun China
War-torn Syria blew a major hole in China's bid to reach a second World Cup when they pulled off a stunning 1-0 qualifying upset on Thursday.
Syria, who are playing their qualifying games outside Syria at the Seeb Stadium in Oman due to the ongoing conflict in their homeland, saw Mahmoud Al-Mawas's breakaway goal in the 54th minute settle a gritty game in Xian which left China on just one point from their first three games in Group A.
China hope to host and win a World Cup
Seventy-eighth ranked China have ambitions of hosting and even winning a World Cup, but Al-Mawas dented their hopes of reaching the tournament for a second time at Russia 2018.
The bustling, bearded forward latched onto a long ball and prodded his first touch past on-rushing goalkeeper Gu Chao before controlling the bouncing ball into the net.
The goal proved to be enough to see Syria, with a population of approximately 17 million people, though there are no current accurate figures, and many of Syrian citizens are displaced or refugees, beat China, with a population of over 1.3 billion, 76 times that of their opponents.
Syria in fact should then have made the game safe in the 73rd minute but Omar Kharbin managed to miss an open goal from Al-Mawas's inviting cutback.
Syria joint third in Group A
Syria now climb above China in Group A to draw level on four points with mighty Iran, who play Uzbekistan later. South Korea top the group on seven points, having beaten Qatar 3-2 earlier today.
The group winners and group runners-up will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, while the third-placed team will go into a play-off against the third placed team from Group B to see who plays the intercontinental play-off against a Concacaf representative to claim a place in Russia. .
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