Syria eye quarterfinal spot

Syria, on three points from two matches, trail their opponents by one point, with Japan also on four and playing at the same time against Saudi Arabia, who are out of contention, on none. Another slight concern for Syria is defender Abdulkader Deka, who broke his nose in the 2-1 loss to Japan on Thursday.

“With Deka you can say 90 percent he will play, he was training yesterday so he is ready. As for Firas we will decide tomorrow,” coach Tita Valeriu said.

Striker Al Khatib, 27, was an unused substitute in the opening victory over Saudi Arabia but came off the bench at halftime to score a penalty against Japan as he showed his importance to the team. Syria will be without defender Nadim Sabag who was sent off in the final stages of the loss to Japan.

Romanian Valeriu, who took charge of Syria last month after Serbian coach Ratomir Dujkovic was late in returning from holiday, was confident of victory. “I am very much happy with the Syrian team for three weeks now and I promise my players will be to their level and play their best.”

Jordan, three places ahead of their opponents at 107 in the FIFA rankings, need only a draw and are favourites to qualify for the quarter-finals with their Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad confident his side could equal their 2004 tournament-best performance of a place in the last eight.

The complicated situation in Group B offers a scenario where Jordan could qualify at the expense of three-times champions Japan even if they lose but that would require the Blue Samurai to suffer a heavy defeat against the Saudis.

=Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni was wary of facing the Saudis even though the three-times champions are mathematically out of the tournament and sacked their coach after their surprise opening loss to Syria.

“It is not going to be easy match tomorrow, the Saudis have good technique. We need to have the right attitude in the match,” the Italian said.

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