Russia 2018 Asian Qualifiers Third Round: Syria v Islamic Republic Iran preview

Seremban: Group A leaders Islamic Republic of Iran are hoping to extend their Russia 2018 Asian Qualifying Third Round unbeaten streak as they take on Syria, a team that has caused problems against the likes of Korea Republic and China PR so far.

  • Syria coach Ayman Hakeem believes that a good game plan will be key to unlocking a well-organised Iranian defence. Consistency is the key for Iranian coach Carlos Queiroz, as the Portuguese tactician looks to keep things tight at the back while winning games.
  • IR Iran are missing rumoured Liverpool target Sardar Azmoun as well as midfielder Ehsan Hajsafi through suspension.
  • Winger Mahmoud Al Mawas is the only Syrian player to have scored in this round of qualifying, in a 1-0 win over China on Matchday Three.
  • IR Iran’s unbeaten streak goes back an incredible 18 games; their last defeat was a 3-1 loss to Sweden in April 2015.

Match Details
Date: 15 November 2016 (Tuesday)
Kickoff time: 8:00pm MYT, 12:00pm GMT
Venue: Stadium Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Seremban
Referee: Ali Sabah Al Qaysi (Iraq)

Coach Quotes

Ayman Hakeem, Syria
“This is a very difficult game. Iran is a strong team and in very good form at the moment. We can see that it is not easy to score goals against them, as they are well-organised.

“We need to keep to our game plan and then we can get a good result. We will have to be at our best and work hard for each other. All these games in this stage are very difficult but we have shown that we have our own strengths too and we have managed to produce some good results”

Carlos Queiroz, IR Iran
“From a tactical aspect, it is not easy to come and play in Malaysia but in respect to Syria, we are here to win. So far we have collected ten points in four games and that is a good start. We have scored four goals in those games and while that is not ideal, it is because of the strength or our opponents.

“If we can keep scoring one or two goals in every match and not concede then I will be happy. All games at this stage are difficult and intense and this is a big responsibility for a coach. We have to play against good teams like Syria and always perform to our best but then on the other hand, we know that Iran are tough opponents for other teams in the group too.”

Head to Head Record
15/06/08 Syria 0-2 IR Iran
06/02/08 IR Iran 0-0 Syria
07/09/06 Syria 0-2 IR Iran
16/08/06 IR Iran 1-1 Syria

Syria: LDWLW

How they fared on MD4
Qatar 1-0 Syria
Hasan Al Haydos scored from the spot as Qatar eked out a narrow 1-0 win over Syria in Doha. Omar Khribin almost saved a point for the visitors, but his strike came back off the woodwork five minutes from time as Syria were unable to capitalise on a 1-0 win over China on Matchday Four.

IR Iran 1-0 Korea Republic
Sardar Azmoun scored the only goal of the game as IR Iran maintained their unbeaten Group A record with a 1-0 win over Korea Republic in Tehran. The 21-year-old Rostov forward netted in the 25th minute as Queiroz’s side dominated against an off-colour Taeguk Warriors in front of a 70,000 crowd at Azadi Stadium.

Photos: Lagardère Sports

Asian Football Confederation

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