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League on hold as national team gears up for Asian Cup

By Aline Bannayan - Dec 09,2018 - Last updated at Dec 09,2018

AMMAN — The Jordan Professional Football League is now on hold to allow the national team to prepare for the Asian Cup 2019 in the UAE, where Jordan will play in Group B alongside Australia, Syria and Palestine.

Jordan, now at 109th when the latest FIFA Rankings, is now holding a training camp in Oman after they played two friendlies at home beating India 2-1 and holding Saudi Arabia 1-1 in the final home camp ahead of the 2019 Asian Cup. Their final friendlies will be in Qatar where they will play against Kyrgyzstan on December 20, Qatar on December 24 and China on December 28 in the final phase of preparations before their first Asian Cup match on January 6.

Earlier, Jordan tied Oman 0-0, lost 1-0 to Lebanon, held Albania 0-0 and lost 2-1 to World Cup runner-up Croatia.

The league break will give coaches a chance to reassess strategy and work on their line-up until Leg 2 starts on February 2. As the clubs headed to the break, Jazira held on to a slim lead after suffering their first defeat to Faisali (1-0) and a previous 1-1 draw with Shabab Urdun, who are second after they beat Aqaba 3-0.

Salt remained third after they beat Hussein 2-0 and Wihdat remained fifth after they beat Ramtha 2-1. Ahli temporarily move out of the relegation zone and are 10th after they beat Baqaa 2-1.

Jazira maintained their lead like the past two seasons, ahead of usual champs Wihdat and Faisali. Last season, Wihdat won the league for a record 16th time. Jazira lost two competition finals conceding the 35th Jordan Super Cup to Faisali and the Jordan Football Association (JFA) Shield final to Wihdat. Jazira also finished runner-up in the league but made club history by winning the 38th Jordan Cup final after they last won the Jordan Cup in 1984.

The 2018/19 football season kicked off with league champs Wihdat beating Jordan Cup champs Jazira in the 36th Jordan Super Cup — the first major competition on the annual football calendar.

Since the league kicked off in 1944, Faisali are 33 time record winners, while Wihdat were crowned champs for 16 times since they joined the league in 1980.

On the regional scene, Jazira were eliminated from Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup West Asia zone final losing to the Iraqi Air Force team and failing to reach the continent’s final. Faisali had bowed out in the event’s semifinals. 

Likewise, Ramtha bowed out to Tunisia’s Etoile Sportive Du Sahel in the preliminary round of the Arab Club Champions Cup. League holders Wihdat will represent Jordan in the 2018/19 AFC Champions League. Jordanian teams have never before made it past the ACL preliminary round. In the 2017/18 edition, Faisali were eliminated, while Wihdat were knocked out in 2017, 2016 and 2015, and Shabab Urdun were eliminated in 2014.

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