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U-16 football team starts Asian qualifiers

By Aline Bannayan - Sep 17,2017 - Last updated at Sep 17,2017

AMMAN — Jordan’s U-16 team plays Sri Lanka on Monday in their second match at the qualifiers for the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 Championship.

The squad beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in their opening match of Group A, which also includes Uzbekistan and Bahrain. Bahrain beat Sri Lanka 6-0 and plays Uzbekistan on Monday.

Organised by the AFC, and held once every two years for Asian U-16 teams, the competition also serves as a qualification tournament for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The top 4 countries qualify to participate in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. 

Iraq are the reigning champs. Since the event kicked off in 1995, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and Oman have each won the title twice. Qatar, Iran, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Iraq won once.

Jordan failed to qualify to the 2016 AFC U16 Asian Championship and Coach Abdullah Qitati hopes to turn things around this time. After playing two friendlies in the UAE drawing 1-1 and winning 2-1 in the countdown to the qualifiers he noted the team’s “agenda was on course”. 

Similarly, the U-19 men’s team is readying to play in Group E alongside Syria, Palestine and the host Iran in AFC U-19 Championship qualifying stage scheduled to take place from October 31 to November 8.

Jordan previously qualified to the Asian championship four times and reached the FIFA Youth World Cup in Canada in 2007. Jordan finished fourth in 2006, but exited the group stages in 2008 and 2010 and reached the quarters, in 2012. Jordan failed to qualify to the 2014 championship. 

On the other hand, the U-23 team which qualified to the 3rd AFC U-23 Championship in 2018 is preparing in two phases for the AFC Championship as well as the qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Palestine and Jordan moved from Group E, Oman moved from Group A, Iraq and Saudi from Group B, Qatar and Syria from Group C, Uzbekistan from Group D, Australia form Group F, North Korea from Group G, Malaysia and Thailand from Group H, South Korea and Vietnam from Group I and China and Japan from Group J.

In 2016, Jordan was eliminated from the quarter-finals of the 2016 AFC U-23 Championship and failed to make it to the top four and a possible Olympic slot as the continent’s top three advanced to the Rio Games football tournament. In the inaugural AFC U-22 Championship in 2014, Jordan took third place when it beat South Korea, while Iraq won the title after defeating Saudi Arabia.

Jordan’s U-23 squad was eliminated from the 1st West Asian U-23 Championship in 2015, and in 2014 the line-up represented Jordan at the Asian Games where it made to the quarter-finals.

 

Jordan hopes to advance this year after it was eliminated from the qualifying rounds of the 2016 championship.

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