AFC Asian Cup group stage opponent report: Syria

The Caltex Socceroos have been drawn into Group B for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 to be held in the United Arab Emirates.

As reigning champions, Australia will face the first tests of their title defence against Syria, Palestine and Jordan.

Here's our look at Syria, their prospects of creating trouble and how they'll hope to fair at next year's tournament.

READ: Caltex Socceroos learn AFC Asian Cup 2019 opponents


Currently ranked 76th in the world, Syria is a side punching well above its weight on the global football stage.

They qualified for UAE 2019 by finishing a comfortable second behind Japan in Group E of the Second Round.

Though four points adrift of top spot, Syria encountered few troubles in beating out Singapore, Afghanistan and Cambodia, only dropping points against Samurai Blue.


Syria are without a win in six matches, yet they have only lost once in their last 12 outings.

They made headlines late last year after pushing Australia all the way in a FIFA World Cup play-off, eventually succumbing in extra-time in Sydney.


UAE 2019 marks a return to Asian football's showpiece tournament after they failed to qualify for the last edition in Australia.

Syria are five-time AFC Asian Cup participants, most recently in 2011, but have never progressed past the group stage.


Omar Khribin is the star in attack. The 24-year-old stamped his reputation as one of Asia's most respected strikers by winning the Asian Footballer of the Year in 2017, topping the scoring in the AFC Champions League the same year.

Syria player Omar Khirbin
Omar Khribin is undoubtedly a danger man.


Syria lured veteran boss Bernd Strange back to football in February in order to lead their AFC Asian Cup campaign. The German has extensive experience in Asia courtesy of spells with likes of Iraq and Oman, while he also won plenty of fans during his time in charge of Perth Glory at the turn of the century.


Australia has only played Syria twice, both coming in last year's FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off. What some may have expected to be a comfortable assignment very nearly proved a banana skin for the Caltex Socceroos, who were held to a 1-1 draw in neutral Malaysia in the first leg.

Tim Cahill's brace got the job done in a 2-1 win back in Sydney, although it wasn't easy. Extra-time was needed and, indeed, Syria might well have been through had Omar Al Soma's free-kick at the death gone the other side of the upright.

Mathew Leckie Syria
Australia and Syria met in a crunch double-header last year.


Qualifying for the knockout stages for the first time will certainly be the target. Syrian have shown they have the potential to do that, and cannot be discounted from causing further carnage if they make it out of the group.