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Syrian midfielder optimistic of beating Australia in AFC fourth round playoff

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Syria midfielder Mohammed ZaherMidani is hopeful of overcoming Australia in the fourth round play-off of the AFC qualifiers.

The politically unstable country has played its home games in Malaysia, and they will entertain Australia in the first-leg of the play-off from the Hang Jebat Stadium on Thursday.

The Syrians have previously registered wins over Uzbekistan and Qatar at the Hang Jebat Stadium while drawing the remaining games in the third round of the qualification phase. As a result, Midani is optimistic of securing a positive result against the Socceroos to take into the return leg in Sydney five days later.

He told "We played well in the qualifiers, and even hoped we might qualify directly for Russia. But making it to round four was still excellent. We’ll now take on the Australians in two crucial games, and we’re ready for the battle," added the man who plays his club football for Iraq's Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.

Should things go their way, Syria will get the opportunity to contest in the intercontinental play-off where they will face off against the fourth-placed side from the CONCACAF region. The United States of America are currently occupying the fourth spot, and this presents a stiff challenge for whichever side qualifies for the two-legged tie next month.

Midani has been an influential player for Syria in the qualifying phase having started 13 games and a further two from the substitutes' bench. He has sat out just three outings through his side's qualifiers, all of them coming in the third round, where they finished behind Iran and South Korea.

Meanwhile, Australia will also be looking to salvage some pride having failed to make the most of their opportunity against Thailand in September. The Socceroos lost second place to Saudi Arabia in Group B by a difference of just two goals, which could have been achievable by bigger victory than the 2-1 triumph over Thailand.