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Dhaka Tribune

War-torn Syria vows to give all in Asian Cup qualifying campaign

Update : 14 Oct 2013, 04:54 PM

Syrian head coach Anas Makhlouf on Monday vowed that the strife-torn nation will press on with its Asian Cup qualifying campaign in a bid to lift the spirits of fans back home.

Makhlouf's side face Singapore on Tuesday, and need a crucial win to remain in contention to qualify for the prestigious regional tournament, which will be hosted by Australia in 2015.

The team has one point from two games so far, in a group that also includes Oman and Jordan.

Makhlouf said the team, which plays home ties in Tehran due to security concerns in Syria, sorely missed the "comfort" of playing in front of a home crowd.

"But we will...try to do and play well for them because they wait (for) us and ask about us, and worry about us, and it is most important thing to make a result, a good result for them," Makhlouf said in English at a pre-match conference in Singapore.

Team captain Senharib Malki said fans have been making up for their absence by sending the team notes of encouragement through social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

"We can't play at home, and it is difficult for them to come to Tehran to watch the game. For these kind of people, we need to give everything," said the 29-year-old forward, who plays for Turkish Super League side Kasimpasa.

Syria, which is ranked 143 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, remains mired in a civil war that has drawn in fighters from across the Arab world and beyond since it flared in response to a bloody government crackdown on democracy protests in March 2011.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group that relies on a network of activists across the war-torn country, estimates that at least 115,000 people have been killed since then, mostly civilians.

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