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Jordan looks ahead to West Asian Championship

By Aline Bannayan - Jul 30,2019 - Last updated at Jul 30,2019

AMMAN — The national football team returned home on Tuesday after ending a training camp in Turkey in the last phase of preparations for the 9th West Asian Championship which will be held in Iraq July 30 — Aug 14.

Jordan was drawn to play alongside Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain in Group B while Group A includes Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen as well as host Iraq.

Jordan plays Bahrain in its opening match on August 4. The top team from each group advances to the August 14 final match.

Initiated by Jordan in 2000, and headed by HRH Prince Ali, president of the Jordan Football Association (JFA) and the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), Jordan’s best finish at WAFF Championship was runner-up in 2002, 2008 and 2014. Iran won the title for the fourth time in 2008. Iraq won the title once in 2002, Kuwait in 2010, Syria in 2012 and Qatar in 2014. 

Jordan lost 2-0 to Qatar in the final match of the 8th edition of the championship. It was the third time for Jordan in the final, finishing runner-up three times, but never winning the title.

The West Asian Championship is a good chance as the team gears up for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Qatar and 2023 Asian Cup in China. Jordan will play in Group 2 alongside Australia, Taiwan, Kuwait and Nepal in the qualifiers.

The Kingdom dropped one place to 99th in the latest FIFA world rankings which came after the team played two friendly matches losing to Slovakia 5-1 before beating Indonesia 4-1.

The squad’s latest results were under scrutiny by observers, as others noted the coaching staff should be given a chance to try the line-up of players before heading into the qualifiers. 

Once among the Asia top 10, Jordan is now 16th in the continent but still lags behind relatively uncompetitive Asian teams compared to their best FIFA Ranking of 37th in 2004. 

After elimination from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, playing in the Asian finals became Jordan’s focus, but that ambition ended in the Round of 16. Since first taking part in Asian Cup qualifiers in 1972, Jordan reached the Asian Championship four times. The highlight was at the 13th Asian Cup in 2004, when it lost to Japan in the quarter-finals and jumped to the best ever FIFA Ranking. They also reached the Asian Cup in 2011 and 2015 and 2019.

The national team’s best peak performance was in 2013 when the team was on the verge of qualifying to the 2014 World Cup for the first time and advanced to play then World’s 6th ranked Uruguay in an intercontinental qualifying tie.

The Kingdom had never reached that far in World Cup qualifying since taking part in qualifiers. Round 3 had been the furthest Jordan reached in the past seven times in the qualifiers since 1986.

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