World Cup qualifying: Syria to play Australia in Malaysia
SYDNEY (AP) Football Federation Australia says it has received official confirmation that Syria will host the Socceroos in Malaysia in the first leg of the Asian World Cup qualifying playoff next month.
As a result of the continuing civil war in its home country, Syria played all of its third-round Asian World Cup qualifying matches in Malaysia, where the Asian Football Confederation has its headquarters. Officials have stuck with the formula by confirming Hang Jebat Stadium in Malacca for its Oct. 5 ''home'' game, despite speculation the playoff could be staged in the Middle East.
The Socceroos will host the return match on Oct. 10 in Sydney.
The winner of the Asian playoff will face the fourth-place team from CONCACAF qualifying in North and Central America in another home-and-away series for a place in next year's World Cup in Russia.
Four countries from Asia have already qualified directly for the World Cup, leaving a route through the last-ditch qualifies for another two.
Syria, which has never reached the World Cup finals, secured third spot in Group A with a win in Tehran against already qualified Iran. South Korea also qualified from Group A.
Australia placed third in Group B, edged out on goal difference by Saudi Arabia in the very last game of the round when the Saudis edged already qualified Japan at home.