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Jordan needs to refocus ahead of upcoming Asian qualifiers

By Aline Bannayan - Jun 22,2017 - Last updated at Jun 22,2017

AMMAN  —   The national team has the summer ahead before resuming 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers against Afghanistan in September.

 However, while qualifying to the 2019 Asian Cup should not be a difficult task for Jordan, given the limited capabilities of their qualifying group, there is now growing uncertainty over its preparedness, lineup and possible return to its previous competitive Asian level.

 The team disappointed fans in their latest three matches which they should have won. Jordan lost 1-0 to Iraq in a friendly before managing a goalless draw in another friendly with Hong Kong whom they had beat 4-0 earlier in Amman. The matches were intended to prepare the team for the Asian qualifier against Vietnam which coaches and players expected to easily win.

 However, Jordan was held 0-0 by Vietnam in their second qualifier and returned home amid ambiguity over the team’s readiness. The squad still leads Group C after it scored 7-0 win over lowly Cambodia in its opening qualifier. Cambodia beat Afghanistan 1-0 while Vietnam held Afghanistan 1-1.

 National team coach Abdullah Misfer said Jordan had many chances but failed to score. “We played with a win in mind but were unlucky not to score having had many chances especially in the second half,” he noted.

 The national team is set to host Afghanistan in their third qualifier on September 5 followed by two friendless against Kenya on September 17-19 before playing Oman on October 4 ahead of resuming return leg away qualifiers against Afghanistan on October 10 and Cambodia on October 14.

 This next phase will see the team play friendlies and qualifiers, all as the local season resumes with an expected kick off by August 2 with the Faisali versus Jazira in the Cup Winners’ Cup. The Jordan Football Association Shield is slated for August 9-25 followed by the September 7 kickoff of the Jordan Professionsl Football League and the Jordan Cup on September 18.

 After elimination from the 2018 World Cup  qualifiers, advancing to the Asian finals is a priority. The Kingdom has steadily slid down FIFA rankings  to 109th, and the team has had an inconsistent two years compared to 2013 when Jordan was on the verge of qualifying to the 2014 World Cup for the first time.

 Asian teams are playing in six groups and group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals as well as the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Teams already having qualified include Australia, China, Iraq, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Thailand, Uzbekistan and the host the UAE.

 

 Since first taking part in Asian Cup qualifiers in 1972, Jordan reached the Asian Championship three times: the pinnacle was at the 13th Asian Cup, when they lost to Japan in the quarter-finals and jumped to the best ever FIFA rank of 37th in August 2004. They also reached the Asian Cup in 2011.

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