Syria's World Cup Dreams Were Shattered In A Nail-Biting Qualifier Against Australia

Syria's World Cup Dreams Were Shattered In A Nail-Biting Qualifier Against Australia

The message was a simple one for the Socceroos' second-leg FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Syria in Sydney on Tuesday night - win or draw and Australia's hopes of heading to Russian Federation in 2018 stay alive.

Syria's improbable run toward a first World Cup attracted global attention, which heightened after it salvaged a 1-1 draw in the first leg last week at its adopted home ground in Malaysia.

Al Soma handed the Syrians the lead after just six minutes before Tim Cahill equalised in the 13th minute.

Syria's dreams of securing a maiden World Cup appearance were dashed. "Five key players is a big loss for us but we trust the players we have".

Australia boss Ange Postecoglou described Tim Cahill as "a unique and extraordinary individual" after his two goals sealed their place in an intercontinental World Cup play-off. Eventually that goal came and it was that man again Cahill who was in the right place at the right time.

For Cahill, the two goals today were his 49th and 50th in worldwide competition.

As penalties beckoned, Robbie Kruse sent over a cross from the byline and Cahill out-jumped his marker to power a header past the diving Ibrahim Alma.

When is Australia v Syria?

The civil war-torn nation had made an unlikely journey to the qualifying round just before the play-off's, and carried hope into the tie after a 1-1 draw in the opening leg. The players have had to fight all the way through qualifying and they believe in themselves.

"I said when he broke the 100 games that he's a great Australian sportsman, beyond our sport", he told Fox Sports. However, it was Milligan who turned over possession so cheaply for the home side when Al Soma stole in for the early goal.

Staff have always been preparing for every possible outcome, compiling analysis and logistics on both probable adversaries and even third-placed United States, should they falter against the struggling Trinidad and Tobago.