Runners-up in the last edition, Syria straightway signalled intentions on going one better with a convincing win against Kyrgyzstan in their opening match of the ONGC Nehru Cup at the Ambedkar Stadium on Thursday.
Had they not missed some easy chances, the west Asian nation, the highest ranked side in the tournament at 95, could have won by a bigger margin.
Striker Mohammad Al Zino put the Syrians in front before Abdul Fatah Alaga doubled the lead halfway into the second half on a turf where the grass was trimmed after the Wednesday's opener. This enabled Syria to play more on the ground but Kyrgyzstan couldn't do much against their attacking opponents who went on the offensive from the start.
The suspension of Abiakimov Roman in the second half only made life difficult for the red shirts. Syria almost made it 3-0 but Al Houssain's right footer just before the final whistle hit the post. “Some of our players were not fully fit so we thought of taking things easy in the first match,” said Syria coach Fajir Ibrahim after the match. “We will do better as the tournament progresses,” he added.
Lanka kick off against Lebanon
The odds are stacked heavily against Sri Lanka when they kick off against the in-form Lebanon on Friday. Lebanon though aren't taking anything for granted and seemed a little worried about the 'unknown' Lankans. “We don't know their players, their game, so we can't them for granted,” said Lebanon coach Emile Rustom. “We will see their game in the first 15 minutes and then plan to go all out,” Rustom added.
Lebanon, who started their campaign with a solitary goal win against India, are likely to start with the same XI.
Results: Syria 2 (Al Zino 9th, Alaga 71st) Kyrgyzstan 0