WATCH: Drama as Syria's footballers keep World Cup dream alive

A stoppage time penalty by way of panenka gave them a win in the qualifiers

BY Raf Diallo 17:52 Thursday 23 March 2017, 17:52 23 Mar 2017

Despite the brutal civil war that still rages in Syria, the country's footballers are still in the running to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The Syrian national team is in a group with Iran, South Korea, Uzbekistan, China and Qatar in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) qualifiers and remain in the running for Russia 2018.

That's thanks to a 1-0 win against one of Asia's mid-tier football powers Uzbekistan.

Played at a neutral venue in Malaysia due to the Syrian Civil War, the designated home side secured a victory in dramatic fashion on Thursday.

Winning a stoppage time penalty, Syria forward Omar Kharbin converted but not by an obvious route. 

Despite the importance of the kick, Kharbin coolly scored with a "Panenka", dinking the ball confidently over the Uzbek goalkeeper to secure the 1-0 win.

Credit: The AFC Hub

Victory puts Syria fourth in Group A on eight points, just one point off the playoff place occupied by Uzbekistan and two behind second placed World Cup regulars South Korea who lost 1-0 to China.

Iran top the group on 11 points, although they have a game in hand against 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.

Meanwhile Group B in Asia sees Saudi Arabia and Japan top of the pile on 13 points, after both teams secured 3-0 and 2-0 away wins against Thailand and United Arab Emirates respectively.

Australia, who have qualified for the last three World Cups (twice since moving to the Asian Football Confederation) sit in the playoff spot of third after a 1-1 draw on neutral ground against Iraq. 

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