Syria vs Australia First Leg Preview Emotion and pressure underline AFC Playoff

Even football fans with wild imaginations would have struggled to conceive this match. Syria. A nation with no home to play in the midst of civil war, dealing with one of the worst humanitarian crises of recent times. Australia. An established continental power ever since it transferred its membership to the Asian Football Confederation.

Not many would have predicted the AFC’s pre-continental playoff to feature Syria and Australia. Yet, after an exciting Asian World Cup qualifying campaign, here we are. Syria vs Australia. Let that sink in for a moment.

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Colombia regain momentum

Since taking over as national team manager, Tite has removed all suspense from Brazil’s 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign, winning eight games out of eight leaving the Seleção just a point away from Russia with four games to go. With top spot all but sealed, the drama from South America’s marathon qualifying campaign is now contained in the fight for the three remaining direct qualification places and one playoff spot. The biggest winners in that particular battle after this international break are Colombia.

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High Stakes in AFC, CONCACAF & CONMEBOL qualifiers on Tuesday

With UEFA playing only one round of World Cup Qualifiers during this international break, the focus shifts to other confederations on Tuesday. We are now entering the home straight of the campaigns in Asia and South America, while the final hex in North and Central America is also heating up nicely. At the end of the day, we should be able to get a clearer picture of which teams can start preparing for next summer in Russia as others see their World Cup dreams fade. Every game is important, but these seven matches on Tuesday have a lot hinging on them on the road to Russia.

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Brazil continue improvement under Tite

The two most impressive teams in CONMEBOL qualifying squared off in Montevideo in what was billed as Brazil’s most difficult task since their turnaround under Tite. The Seleção visited second-place Uruguay, with the hosts keen to prove a point. In the return fixture, Luis Suarez single-handedly turned things around as he inspired his team to a valuable point away from home, coming back from two goals behind. However, Los Charruas were without their suspended talisman this time around and his absence was felt.

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