August 31, 2017

KRUBONG, Malaysia (AP) Syria is one victory away from advancing from its World Cup qualifying group, with an automatic spot at the 2018 tournament in Russia still possible.

The war-torn country's national soccer team beat Qatar 3-1 on Thursday in Malaysia, moving into third place in the six-team Group A of Asian qualifying.

If the Syrians beat Iran in their final group match on Tuesday, they will be guaranteed to finish in third place in the group, earning at least a playoff against the third-place team in Group B. But Syria could finish second and qualify directly for next year's tournament depending on the result of the match between South Korea and Uzbekistan.

Syria has never before qualified for the World Cup.

Qatar, which will stage the 2022 tournament, has been eliminated from contention and will instead make its World Cup debut as the host nation in five years.

Because of the ongoing war in Syria, the national soccer team has been forced to play its home games in southeast Asia.

At Hang Jebat Stadium, Omar Khribin scored a goal in each half for Syria, and Mahmoud Al Mawas added the third in injury time.

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