Syria and Lebanon will fight it out to take their World Cup Qualifying campaign into the final international break of the year when the two meet at the King Abdullah International Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Whilst it would still be possible for the pair to sneak into the playoff spot should either of them lose, the point gap should all but make elimination a formality.
Best placed to finish third and in turn qualify for the playoff are Lebanon, who currently sit fourth in Group A, level on points with the United Arab Emirates above them.
Despite going winless in their first trio of round-three qualifiers, Lebanon could leapfrog the UAE into third with a win against Syria, snatching the initiative ahead of next month's decisive international break.
Playing out a goalless draw when they met the UAE in matchday one, Lebanon pushed South Korea close but ultimately were beaten 1-0, whilst they drew their last qualifier against Iraq, once again without either team finding the back of the net.
In fact, Lebanon are yet to score once in this year's third-round fixtures, making their potential progression with three games to play even more remarkable.
This is in sharp contrast to their second-round performances, where they finished as runners-up in Group H behind South Korea with a +11 goal difference, whilst netting in each of their six fixtures.
Granted, they did fire a blank in their 1-0 defeat to North Korea, yet the Northern half of the Korean peninsula withdrew from the competition due to safety concerns, leaving the door open for Lebanon to continue their World Cup journey.
Securing a place at the 2023 Asian Cup as well, Lebanon will face another side that enjoyed a stellar second-round phase in Syria, who topped their group ahead of China.
However, it has been a different story for the Nosour Qasioun this time around and they too are winless after three third-round matches.
That result remains their only point so far in the third round, with South Korea scoring late on in last week's meeting between the two, denying Syria a famous result.
Son Heung-min popped up with two minutes to play to steal the victory for South Korea and all but rule out the chance of any side other than Iran or themselves from qualifying for Qatar 2022 automatically.
If Syria are to boot their qualification campaign back into life against Lebanon, they will be looking for their first win since 2011 against the Cedars – a result coming during an international friendly.
At the time, it was the latest in a long line of Syria victories against Lebanon, with the Nosour Qasioun in the midst of a five-game winning streak against their neighbours to the West.
Since that meeting, they have struggled to compete against Lebanon, who themselves have enjoyed an upturn in form on the international stage.
Not only would a playoff spot represent the best performance for Lebanon in World Cup Qualifying history, but it would also go a long way to healing the wound left behind by the 2020 Beirut explosion, an event that has shaken Lebanese society.
Football has the natural gift of repairing broken wounds and with the weight of a nation behind them, do not be surprised to see Lebanon continue their push for a maiden World Cup appearance until the very end.
Mostafa Matar has been one of the standout performers for Lebanon in their previous qualifiers, keeping two clean sheets from three third-round matches.
Hassan Maatouk leads the goalscoring charts for players currently in the Lebanese squad and the 34-year-old forward will be looking to add to his 21 goals at this level on Tuesday.
Mainly comprising of footballers plying their trade in the domestic divisions, Hady Ghandour is one of a handful of non-Lebanese based players involved and the Westminster-born forward will be hoping to pick up the first start for his adopted nation.
With 76 to his name, no player in the Syria squad holds more caps than Mahmoud Al-Mawas, and the 28-year-old wide-man will add to his haul when he features on the right-hand side of attack.
Experienced head Ibrahim Alma will be given the challenge of thwarting the Lebanese attackers, with the Syrian shot-stopper eyeing up his first clean sheet of third-round qualifying.
Omar Kharbin scored one of Syria's two goals in this stage of qualification against South Korea last time out and the striker will take one step closer to 50 caps if he is involved against Lebanon – he will move to 48 and will have the opportunity to reach a half-century next month.
Syria possible starting lineup:
Alma; Oues, Al Ahmad, Al Midani, Kerdagli; Al-Mawas, Krouma, Hamwiah, Youssef; Al-Soma, Khribin
Lebanon possible starting lineup:
Matar; Assi, Melki, Oumari, Al-Zein; Dhaini, Michel Melki, Maatouk; Saad, Kdouh, Jradi
We say: Syria 0-0 Lebanon
In the context of the group, it is pretty much a must-win for both sides, with a defeat effectively ending the losing side's World Cup dream.
The form table would have you edging towards Lebanon, but only just and given their inability to score goals in recent matches, another stalemate looks likely.
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