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Wihdat widen Pro League lead

By Aline Bannayan - Nov 18,2020 - Last updated at Nov 18,2020

AMMAN — The 13th week of the 68th Jordan Professional Football League (Pro League) starts on Thursday with all teams having to refocus on wins as standings at both ends of the table start to crystallise.

Players rejoined their lineups after returning from the national team’s training camp in Dubai this week during which Jordan beat Syria 1-0 and held Iraq 0-0 as it gets ready to resume qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Qatar and 2023 Asian Cup in China.

The league is led by Wihdat after beating Ahli 2-0 for their 10th win. They next face Salt who are fifth after holding Ma’an 0-0. Jazira, who came from behind in the first round, are now in second place, just like the past two seasons, when they were favourites to win or be in the runner-up post. They beat Hussein 2-1 and next play Sahab who dropped to 20th after holding Aqaba 0-0. 

Ramtha climbed to 3rd place after they scored an important 3-1 win over Faisali. They next play Ahli who are bottom of the table and need to start winning to move out of the relegation zone.

Hussein play Sarih who are now 8th after losing to Shabab Urdun 4-1. The latter is now 9th ahead of their match against Faisali

Round 2 started on November after matches were rescheduled with COVID-19 cases on most team lineups.

This season, the league champ will move on to the preliminary round of the Asian Champions League while the second and third teams, instead of the Jordan Cup champ, will play in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup after the Jordan Cup was scrapped from the agenda.

So far this season, Wihdat defeated Ramtha to win the 33rd Jordan Football Association (JFA) Shield. It was their 10th Shield title while Ramtha, who have not won a major competition recently, last won the Jordan Cup in 1990-1991 and the Shield in 2001. 

On the other hand, Faisali beat Jazira to win the 37th Jordan Super Cup which 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 while Jazira, Hussein and Ahli won once each.

The issues of COVID-19 in addition to prize money noticeably downsized after the Manaseer Group, ended its 10-year sponsorship of the JFA, has added to clubs headaches who were already reeling with lack of sponsors, injuries and lack of momentum after a long break. Reigning champs Faisali started the AFC Cup on an unimpressive note, compounded with the kickoff delayed for nearly six months for 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup national team qualifiers, which have now been postponed to next year. 

Last season, Wihdat beat Jazira to win the 36th Jordan Super Cup while Faisali won their 20th Jordan Cup title, adding it to their record 34th league title, one point ahead of Jazira who had led throughout the competition and settled for runner-up. Ahli, who were relegated last decade but came back to win the Jordan Cup in 2015 and played in the AFC, barely secured their spot as Baqa’a were relegated to the First Division after 18 consecutive seasons in the league. They were joined by That Ras, a former AFC Cup participant and 2012 Jordan Cup champ. Ma’an and Sarih were promoted.

Since the Pro League kicked off in 1944 with only Faisali, Urdun, Ahli and Homenetmen competing, Faisali are 34 time record league winners while Wihdat were crowned champs 16 times since they joined in 1980.

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