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69th Pro Football League kicks off

By Aline Bannayan - Apr 07,2021 - Last updated at Apr 07,2021

AMMAN  — The third event on this year’s football calendar, the 69th Jordan Professional League (Pro League) kicks off on Thursday. 

Football, the most popular sport in the Kingdom, was certainly different in every aspect due to the COVID-19 pandemic last season. With no fans filling the stands, Wihdat took home their 17th title while Jazira finished runner-up, leaving Ramtha in third place. Salt took fourth spot place ahead of former champs Faisali who settled for fifth. Hussein were 6th followed by Ma’an, who were promoted last season. Aqaba, who joined the Pro League two years ago, held on to 8th ahead of one time champ Shabab Urdun. Sahab held on to 10th as Sarih, who were promoted last season, dropped back alongside veterans Ahli after a disappointing season. 

Last season, in addition to their 17th Pro League title, Wihdat won their 10th Jordan Football Association Shield (JFA) title. In other competitions, Faisali overcame Jazira to win their 17th Jordan Super Cup as the Jordan Cup was scrapped from the agenda for the first time since the competition kicked off in 1980.

The season started with a newcomer to the Pro League, relatively unknown Jalil, overcoming Wihdat to win the 34th JFA Shield — the first of the season competitions. 

This week, Wihdat came back to win their 14th Super Cup when they beat one time winners Jazira 2-0 in 38th Jordan Super Cup, the second title up for grabs in the 2021 football season.

The league is a different ballgame and financial strains will make it difficult for most teams with varying ambitions this year. Wihdat and Faisali will always be the favourites while Jazira have been close to the title for the past three seasons, but lost momentum during the final legs of the competition. The club has won the title four times, but have been unable to move past second spot.

Eight time league champ Ahli were relegated last decade, but came back to win the Jordan Cup in 2015 and played in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup, will be the veteran team missing this year as Jalil and Baqa’a join the 12-club Pro League this year.

The season will be interrupted by regional and international competitions as the national team will resume 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers set to be played in Kuwait June 7-15.

Regionally, the season will see Wihdat playing in the preliminary round of the Asian Champions League. They are scheduled to play in Group D against Saudi Arabia’s Nassr, Qatar’s Sadd, and a third qualifier from Iran or the UAE from April 14-29 in Saudi Arabia.

Faisali and Salt are set to play in the AFC Cup. In 2020, Faisali played alongside Jazira in the AFC Cup, which was later scrapped with the COVID-19 pandemic halting regional and international sporting agendas. 

Since the league kicked off in 1944 with only Faisali, Ahli, Urdun and Homenetmen competing, Faisali are 34-time record league champs, while Wihdat have won 17 times since they joined in 1980.

Although Faisali are the all-time record titleholders, Wihdat’s record is quite impressive. After four years in the Pro League they won their first title in 1980 and have gone on to win the majority of titles since then.

Wihdat’s Mahmoud Shilbaya is the league’s all time top scorer with 127 goals, while Faisali’s Jiryes Tadros comes second with 112 goals.

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