Al Wahda aim to fly Syria flag in AFC Cup

Al Wahda will be hoping to continue Syria’s rise in Asian football by advancing to the final of the AFC Cup.

The Damascus-based outfit currently hold a 2-1 aggregate lead over Iraq’s Air Force Club in the West Zone final, following Tuesday’s first-leg victory at the Saida International Stadium.

Goals by Anas Bouta and Hadi Masri initially put them firmly in control of proceedings, although a late Air Force strike from Hammadi Ahmed leaves things evenly poised ahead of the return encounter on September 26.

Nonetheless, Masri is optimistic in their chances of getting the job done to bring more joy to Syrian fans, who have already seen their national team advance to the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

“All these results reflect on the Syrian national team so all the Syrian fans were supporting us,” the centre-back said on AFC’s official website.

“Al Wahda represents Syria, just like the national team. This is how sport is and, God willing, Syria will continue to improve more and more.”

The slight blemish on Tuesday’s performance came in the 90th minute when an error by Shuaib Ali allowed Ahmed to score what could still prove to be a pivotal away goal.

Still, Masri was quick to assure that Al Wahda would do everything within their capabilities to progress to the AFC Cup final.

“To be honest, their only goal came through exploiting a defensive mistake,” Masri added.

“Our defence had stayed firm throughout the match, even with the pressure they came under because of the work of our coach, Raafat Mohammad.

“But, despite the late goal, we promise our fans that we will get a good result in the second leg.”

Syria have twice produced AFC Cup champions in the past, with Al Jaish winning in 2004 before the feat was emulated by Al Ittihad six years later.