Jordan-Syria match ends in tie, fans express support for Jordan


August 15, 2013

August 15, 2013

By Jacob Wirtschafter and Abdulrahman al-Masri

AMMAN: Jordan and Syria’s football teams took to the field Thursday evening in Tehran for an Asian Cup qualifying match that resulted in a 1-1 tie.

The match was originally supposed to be held in Syria, but due to security concerns, the government requested the match be held in Tehran.

“The regime chose Iran for the match, because it knows it will have its own audience there,” says Oqba al-Jibawi, 22, a former law student at Damascus university who has been living in Jordan for the past year.

Last December, during a West Asian Football Federation match played in Kuwait also between Jordan and Syria, the game was overshadowed by anti-regime protests outside the stadium. One man also managed to access the playing field, carrying a revolutionary glad. Syria won that match, 2-1.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS JORDAN VS. SYRIA. Video courtesy of KoraLifeHD

An informal survey of Syrian football fans seeking refuge in Jordan overwhelmingly showed support for Jordan’s team.

“I will stand with those who stand by us, including Jordan,” says Mohammed Rashed, 43, a Syrian football coach now living in the Zaatari camp in the north of Jordan.

“I support the Jordanian team and have harsh words for the Syrian players – how could they play a match with all this bloodspill in Syria?” Rashed asked.

Law student al-Jibawi says he hopes his home team, dominated by Sunnis, is defeated. “I don’t want them to win; they are all shabiha,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Jordanian club’s coach Hussam Hassan held a press conference in Tehran during which he said his team was prepared for a challenge.

“The Syrian team has top-level capabilities and good players… we will have to play this match carefully,” Hassan said.

Syrian coach Anas Makhlouf said his team was trying to ignore the situation in Damascus where up to ten civilians were killed in violence around the capital Thursday. 
 
“It might be true that we haven’t been able to prepare us up to our own expectations due to some domestic problems,” he said.
 
“However, we have done our best to ignore such issues and focus on our football job.”

From exile in the Jordanian refugee camp , Rashed noted that at least two players from the national team, Abdulbaseet Sarout and Feras al-Khateeb, have defected. “They are our role models in Syrian sports,” Rashed said.

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