The national team’s progress into a World Cup play-off was a chance to focus on something other than division and destruction

For a moment on Tuesday, Ahmad Mohammad Mohammad, a 19-year-old Syrian from Aleppo, was able to forget about the war.

The Syrian national football team bowed out of 2018 World Cup qualification after a 2-1 loss to Australia on Tuesday, after an unlikely run that saw them progress to a qualification play-off.

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