For many Syrians, their national soccer team’s last-gasp defeat at the hands of Australia on Tuesday was the end of a fairy-tale run.

After six years of brutal civil war, it looked for a short while that Syria might reach next year’s World Cup for the first time in its history. But in the final minutes of overtime, the dream was snatched away.

For some Syrians, however, Australia’s winning goal was a cause for celebration. They had spent every game during this qualifying campaign cheering Syria’s opponents.

“Most people who are affected by this war don’t want the Syrian team to win,” said Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, a 32-year-old teacher living in western Aleppo.

“We cannot call it the Syrian team, it is Assad’s team,” he added, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

More than 400,000 people have been killed and 5 million displaced in Syria’s civil war, which began after the government used the army to put down mass protests against Assad’s rule.

The United Nations says the government has used chemical weapons more than two dozen times during the course of the war. Both rebels and government forces have been accused by rights groups of indiscriminate bombing — the government on a much larger scale. 

Some hoped that the team’s World Cup run might bring the country together. Due to the security situation inside Syria, the team was forced to play their home games in Malaysia. They won a string…