Syria hammer Philippines in FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers

Syria hammered the Philippines 5-2 in the first Group A match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian second round qualification tournament in Bacolod City on Thursday.

The hosts had a dream start when Javier Patino scored a header in the sixth minute. However, Syria’s Omar Alsoma equalized 10 minutes later with a long-range header of his own.

The Philippines, whose squad contains many new faces, were given a shock as Khaled Almbayed beat two defenders to score from a tight angle in the 30th minute, putting Syria 2-1 up.

The visitors made it 3-1 at the start of the second half, when captain Firas Alkhatib scored a penalty after a handball by Daisuke Sato. Eight minutes later, Alsoma scored his second and Syria’s fourth goal with another header.

After Mike Ott cut the Philippines’ deficit to two goals, Mahmoud Almawas had an instant reply by slamming home Syria’s fifth goal, with head coach Fajer Ebrahim later expressing his delight at a comprehensive win.

“It is the very beginning of the tournament. For me, our players played very well and the three points are very important for us,” he said.

The Philippines will soon leave for Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean to prepare for its first away match against Guam on September 10.

Also in Group A are China and the Maldives.

A total of 40 teams will play across eight groups in the second round Asian qualifiers. Eight group winners and the four best runners-up will qualify for the next round.