AAP Soccer

Syrian star blames it all on Bernd

By AAP Newswire

Syria's woes at the 2019 Asian Cup are solely the fault of sacked coach Bernd Stange, a key member of the team has claimed.

On the eve of a must-win clash with Australia in Al Ain on Tuesday, defender Ahmad Al-Saleh said Syria's winless start to the tournament is "100 per cent" the fault of the ex-Perth Glory boss.

Stange was sacked by the Syrian FA following last week's 2-0 loss to Jordan, a result that leaves the Qasioun Eagles with one point and no goals from their first two fixtures.

The Syrian FA has since replaced the 70-year-old German - who'd held the Syria coaching role for less than a year - with former coach Fajr Ibrahim appointed as his replacement.

"Of course 100 per cent I would blame the previous head coach who did not have the right plan for us," Al-Saleh said in Monday's pre-match press conference at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium.

Ibrahim has coached Syria on three previous occasions and is familiar with several of the team's top names.

Al-Saleh said he brings a level of understanding Stange never had with the playing group.

"As soon as Fajr arrived at the hotel we knew his tactics and his plans," Al-Saleh said.

"We all like him and our desire previously was to have him as our head coach.

"As we have him now this is a good boss for us and it was easy for us to accommodate him because we know him very well previously."

Ibrahim has already made a big decision, removing the captaincy from star forward Omar Al Somah with the new captain yet to be revealed.

Al Somah scored both of Syria's goals in their 3-2 aggregate World Cup playoff defeat to the Socceroos in 2017.

Ibrahim played down talk of Tuesday's match being a revenge mission but said his team was fired-up to defeat Australia and keep their tournament alive.

"I like football, and we have the language of challenge, losing or win," Ibrahim said.

"Undoubtably, Australia losing to Jordan was a great result to us and for tomorrow, we are planning and determined to win the match."