Asian Cup: Need to take full points against Palestine, says Bernd Stange

Syria impressed in World Cup qualifying, but coach Bernd Stange is guarding against complacency at the Asian Cup as they face Palestine.

Syria captain Omar Al Soma.   -  Getty Images

Bernd Stange will not write off Syria's chances at the 2019 Asian Cup, but his focus is solely on the team's opener against Palestine as his side looks to build on a strong World Cup qualifying campaign.

Syria fell just short of reaching the finals for the first time at Russia 2018, narrowly losing to Australia in the fourth round of AFC qualification before the Socceroos beat Honduras in a play-off.

Stange, who subsequently took charge of the team, has urged Syria to harness that experience at the Asian Cup, suggesting in the build-up to the tournament that his players could catch the eye in the United Arab Emirates.

READ: Asian Cup 2019: India, Thailand eye winning start after contrasting rehearsals

And that campaign will begin against rank outsiders Palestine, yet Stange is keen to avoid complacency.

"No one in our team is arrogant to say that we are here to win the tournament," he told reporters on Saturday.

"There are many other teams, including sides like Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Iran and Australia, who have all played in the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

"We have a young group and we want to go as far as we can in this tournament. Our first objective, however, is to take the full points against Palestine.

"As far as winning the tournament goes, we can safely say that Iraq [2007 winners] have shown us all that such a feat is possible.

"There is a lot of positive pressure on us from the millions of troubled Syrians who want to have something to smile about. We are here to try our best and give them this reason to smile."

Syria have never progressed beyond the first round at the Asian Cup, but Palestine is yet to win a finals match and its head coach Noureddine Ould Ali is under no illusions as to who the favourites are on Sunday.

"We respect Syria and we admit that they have a right to be self-confident as they have achieved some strong results in recent months," he said. "It will be a tightly contested match.

"We are here to play good football and you will see the plan on the pitch."