April 06, 2016

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) Hoping to boost its chances of qualifying for the World Cup, the Syrian soccer federation says it wants to hire former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as coach of the war-torn country's national team.

Mourinho, who left Chelsea in December, has been linked with Manchester United. His representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Syria's top sports official, Muwaffaq Jumaa, scoffed at the proposal, saying the country's ''difficult conditions'' don't permit hiring such international names.

''The circumstances don't permit for Mourinho to come here and there are not enough resources for him,'' Jumaa told The Associated Press. ''I wish the national team the best of luck. But we have to adapt to the conditions we are going through.''

The country's national soccer team, which has never qualified for the World Cup, is to play in Asia's third round of qualifying, scheduled to begin in August.

Syria's civil war is in its sixth year, killing more than 250,000 people and displacing millions. And much like the rest of the country, Syria's sports have suffered from years of conflict.

Stadiums have been hit by the raging violence, while others serve as refugee centers. Some of the country's best players sought contracts abroad - and are often ostracized by local officials for it.

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