Tim Cahill-led Australia sees off courageous Syria

Lynette Rowe
October 11, 2017

If the Socceroos succeed, they will face the fourth-place team from the CONCACAF region to determine if they can qualify for the World Cup.

After rescuing a draw with a last-minute penalty in the first leg, Syria took an early lead in Sydney through Omar Al Somah to send to vociferous Syrian fans in the stadium into raptures.

As the tension rose it looked inevitable that the game would be heading into extra time, only for a rash decision by midfielder Mahmoud Al Mawas to turned the match on its head.

In an epic display of sportsmanship, Syria has failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation. "Five key players is a big loss for us but we trust the players we have".

Tomi Juric came on for Tom Rogic as the match ticked into extra-time, but it would be Cahill - the man who snared his starting spot - who sent the ball into the netting and the fans into delirium, registering his 50th worldwide goal in the process.

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Those combinations helped put James Troisi into the box to feed Cahill, but his right-footed finish was blocked by a defender's thigh with the goal beckoning. In the end, it took superb crosses from Leckie and Kruse to allow Cahill to find the back of the net through trademark powerful headers from close range.

Australia was dominant by a mile as they controlled more than 75% of the ball possession and completed at least 4 times more passes than Syria. "I'm proud of everything we have done together". The players have had to fight all the way through qualifying and they believe in themselves. Postecoglou said. "He's got real belief in himself".

The United States, Panama and Honduras, the three nations who could provide the opposition in the intercontinental playoff, play their final qualifiers later on Tuesday.

An incredible underdog story or a misleading extension of a destructive regime, Cahill has invariably left that discussion redundant for the time being - it is Australia who have progressed here.

Manager Ange Postecoglou had been forced into a change in the 11th minute, having to bring Aaron Mooy - a shock bench starter - into the fray for the injured Brad Smith.

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