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U-23 football team ready for Olympic qualifiers

By Aline Bannayan - Jan 11,2016 - Last updated at Jan 11,2016

AMMAN — Jordan’s U-23 football team arrived in Doha on Sunday and will now aim to finalise the starting line-up ahead of the 2nd Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship kicking off Tuesday.

Jordan will start Group D matches on January 14 against Vietnam before playing the UAE and Australia in the 16-team competition. 

Jordan qualified for the U-23 Championship after leading Group B qualifiers in Amman. It will aim to attain an advanced position after Jordan beat South Korea to take bronze in the inaugural AFC U-22 Championship (now renamed the AFC U23 Championship) which Iraq won after defeating Saudi Arabia. 

It has been a challenge to regroup the team with the busy agenda of the national squad in World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers as well as the local competition agenda. However, the squad has tried its best to prepare for the championship serving as Asia’s qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

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

This week, Jordan concluded a training camp in the UAE where they played three matches, losing to Uzbekistan 2-1 after it beat North Korea 1-0 and 2-1 as head coach Jamal Abu Abed gave all the squad playing time in a bid to finalise the line-up before leaving to Qatar.

“I was hoping we would win our third match, but what was more important was the chance to test all players. The team has improved in every aspect. The camp was a success and was aided by the squad’s discipline and commitment,” Abu Abed underlined. 

Coach Samir Rahhal added “the competitive spirit was high” and all three goalies were ready and would have “a major role in future national squads”.

 

Earlier, the U-23 team played Iraq in a friendly, losing 1-0 after playing local matches against Wihdat, Jazira, Faisali and Shabab Urdun during the last two months as the coaches worked on defensive and offensive tactics and tried to enhance “team cohesiveness”.

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