Sydney playoff clash may take time to spark into life
Socceroos are favourites to advance at Syria's expense
World Cup playoff second leg
Syria held Australia to a draw when the nations met in Malaysia in Thursday's first leg of Asia's World Cup playoff but bookmakers expect the Socceroos to progress to the inter-confederation playoff with a victory at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.
War-torn Syria's story has grabbed headlines as they move closer to a place in Russia and they kept that dream alive when Omar Al Somah - the prolific Al Ahli striker who returned to international football in August after five years away - slotted home an 85th-minute penalty to level the scores last week.
But the Qasioun Eagles still have work to do if they're to down an Australian team with a strong home record and the advantage of an away goal. The hosts are no bigger than 1-7 to advance with the underdogs quoted at 5-1.
Since being admitted to the Asian zone ahead of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, the Socceroos have played 23 home matches and lost just one of them. They've failed to win just one of nine matches in their qualifying campaign so it's reasonable to expect short odds about an Aussie victory.
Yet despite having a squad containing Premier League players Aaron Mooy, Brad Smith and Mathew Ryan, the Aussies might struggle to land early blows in what could prove to be a cagey affair.
Syria limited Ange Postecoglou's team to just four shots on target on Thursday and they will probably be content to keep things tight in the early stages before trying to find the goal that they must score if they're to progress.
Paddy Power offer 10-11 that the first goal arrives after the 25th minute and that looks reasonable given that Syria's last five competitive away games have averaged just 1.6 goals.
First goal to be scored after 25 minutes
1pt 10-11 Paddy Power
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