|Syria coach Ayman al-Hakim (right). Photo citizen.co.za|Viet Nam News
DAMASCUS — Syria coach Ayman al-Hakim on Thursday resigned after the head of the federation criticised his performance, after the team failed to qualify for its first ever World Cup.
Syria’s hopes to qualify in the Asian playoffs in October for a spot in the 2018 World Cup were dashed during extra time against Australia.
The Syrian football federation did not immediately accept Hakim’s resignation but is due to issue a statement in the next few days, a federation official said.
"After the recent remarks made by the president of the federation, Salah Ramadan... I submitted my resignation to the president of the committee of national teams," Hakim said in a statement released by the federation.
"I am proud of the progress achieved by the national team during the last period both on the Arab and international levels," he added.
Hakim also underscored the "difficult circumstances" that the team faced, in an apparent reference to the six-year war that has wracked Syria.
On Thursday federation president Ramadan said he had asked Hakim to step down and pave the way for the federation to strike a new contract with a foreign coach.
Hakim said he would await a final decision from the federation, which is expected to meet next week.
Federation vice president, Fadi Dabbas, said "measures will be taken in the interest of Syrian football". AFP