Syrian soccer federation says it wants to hire Mourinho

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) Hoping to boost its chances of qualifying for the World Cup, the Syrian soccer federation says it wants to hire former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as coach of the war-torn country’s national team.

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Mourinho, who left Chelsea in December, has been linked with Manchester United. His representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Syria’s top sports official, Muwaffaq Jumaa, scoffed at the proposal, saying the country’s “difficult conditions” don’t permit hiring such international names.

Syria’s civil war is in its sixth year, killing more than 250,000 people and displacing millions.

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The country’s national soccer team is to play in Asia’s third round of qualifying, scheduled to begin in August.