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Maan, Sairh score upset as Professional League kicks off

By Aline Bannayan - Mar 08,2020 - Last updated at Mar 08,2020

AMMAN — The 68th Jordan Professional Football League kicked off over the weekend with the title up for grabs among mainly top three teams.

Week 1 of the League saw newcomers Maan upset Salt 1-0, Hussein tie Jazira 2-2, newcomers Sahab beat Aqaba 2-1, Ramtha held Faisali 0-0, Wihdat scored a big 5-0 win over Ahli and JFA Shield semifinalists Sarih scored a major 4-1 upset over Shabab Urdun. 

With the kickoff delayed for nearly six months for 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup national team qualifiers, teams have been reeling with lack of sponsors, injuries and lack of momentum after a long break with reigning champs Faisali the first to start the season on a weak footing after they lost in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.

The current season kicked off with Wihdat beating Ramtha to win the 33rd Jordan Football Association Shield. It was Wihdat’s record 10th Shield title while Ramtha, who have not won a major competition recently, and are five time Shield champs, last won the Jordan Cup in 1990-1991 and the Shield in 2001.

Faisali beat Jazira to win the 37th Jordan Super Cup — the second major competition on the annual football calendar. The Super Cup has now been won by Faisali a record 17 times out of 25 final appearances, Wihdat have won 13 times, Ramtha and Shabab Urdun twice each,w while Jazira, Hussein and Ahli won once each.

Jazira, who were leading in the past two seasons, have financial difficulties and have a had an issue consolidating their line-up and have also been unimpressive in the AFC Cup, now on hold because of the coronavirus outbreak and the schedule is still undecided .

Last season’s League remained undecided until the final two weeks before Faisali took home their record 34th title, one point ahead of Jazira who had led throughout the competition and settled for runner-up. Then titleholders Wihdat settled for third, Shabab Urdun finished fourth, Salt finished 5th and Aqaba finished 6th. That Ras, a previous AFC Cup participant and 2012 Jordan Cup champ were the first to drop to the First Division.

Ramtha, Aqaba and Hussein were in the relegation zone but maintained their spot in the elite group. Ahli, who were relegated last decade, but came back to win the Jordan Cup in 2015 and played in the AFC also seemed poised to drop but their final win secured their spot as Baqaa dropped after 18 consecutive seasons in the elite group.

In the continents’ leading competition — the AFC Champions League — Faisali were eliminated by Kuwait Club in the preliminary round. Similarly, Shabab Urdun were eliminated from the Round of 16 of the Arab Club Champions Cup.

Last season, Faisali were crowned Pro League champs and combined it with their 20th Jordan Cup title. Wihdat beat Jazira to win the 36th Jordan Super Cup. Since the League kicked off in 1944 with only Faisali, Urdun, Ahli and Homentmen competing, Faisali are 34-time record league winners, while Wihdat were crowned champs 16 times since they joined in 1980.

The Pro League’s Leg 1 is slated to end May 22 with Leg 2 starting on June 2 and running until October 24.

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