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Syrian footballer raises revolution flag in official match

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A Syrian footballer became the first player in the country’s official squad to raise the revolution’s flag after winning the West Asian Championships for the first time.

War-torn Syria enjoyed some rare soccer success by beating Iraq 1-0 in Kuwait on Thursday to claim the trophy.


“I give this win and this worthy title to the Syrian people. I thank God that we succeeded in bringing happiness to the sad people,” striker Omar Al Soma said in a televised interview after the match.

Ahmad al-Salih headed the winning goal for Syria's Red Eagles in the 75th minute of the final and they rode their luck in the closing stages before claiming the nine-team biennial tournament.

“I give this win and this worthy title to the Syrian people. I thank God that we succeeded in bringing happiness to the sad people,” striker Omar Al Soma said in a televised interview after the match.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in Syria since violence broke out against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

The Syrians reached the final after drawing with Iraq and coming from behind to beat Jordan in the group stages.

They then edge Bahrain 3-2 on penalties when their semi-final finished 1-1 after extra time.

In one of the matches, a fan stormed in the pitch carrying the opposition flag, prompting fans to start chanting for the revolution. Kuwaiti security forces prevented a demonstration outside the stadium against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian official state TV briefly suspended the broadcast of the match.


Syria had twice previously finished as runners-up in the tournament, in the inaugural edition in 2000 and again four years later, both times losing to Iran.

Syria are ranked 144th by world governing body FIFA and have never qualified for a World Cup but have made the Asian Cup finals on five occasions, most recently last year.

They begin the qualifiers for the 2015 Asian Cup in February and will play home matches against Singapore, Jordan and Oman in Iran. The top two teams from the group will compete in the finals in Australia.