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Jordan national football team hosts Malaysia, Uzbekistan

U-23 play qualifiers for Asian Championship in Uzbekistan

By Aline Bannayan - Oct 05,2021 - Last updated at Oct 05,2021

AMMAN — The national football team hosts world 154th ranked Malaysia on Wednesday in the first friendly of a three nation tournament amid a local training camp as they prepare for the FIFA Arab Cup — Qatar 2021, in December.

Jordan is set to meet 84th ranked Uzbekistan on October 12, preceded by Malaysia versus Uzbekistan match on October 9.

The national squad’s performance came under scrutiny by observers lately as Jordan lost to little know Haiti 2-0 and managed a 2-1 win over Bahrain. Haiti had lost 6-1 to Bahrain in a three nation friendly — the first since Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad took over after the removal of Belgian Vital Borkelmans following the early exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Jordan now needs to go through another stage of qualifying to get to the 2023 Asian Cup.

In the FIFA Arab Cup preliminary round qualifier, Jordan’s team overcame South Sudan on a technicality after South Sudan was forced to forfeit the match with over six members of the squad contracting the COVID-19. Jordan will now play in Group C alongside, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Palestine.

The Kingdom has taken part in the past eight Arab Cups and hosted the 1988 edition. Iraq is record Arab Cup titleholders in 1964, 1966 1985 and 1988, Saudi Arabia in 1998 and 2002, Tunisia in 1963, Egypt in 1992 and Morocco in 2012.

In latest FIFA Rankings, Jordan was up to 93rd and 14th in Asia lagging behind relatively uncompetitive Asian teams compared to its best ranking of 37th in 2004.  

The team is scheduled to hold a training camp and play Kosovo on November 10 and Belarus on November 16.

Looking back at the Jordan’s peak performance, the team was on the verge of qualifying to the 2014 World Cup for the first time and advanced to play then World’s 6th ranked Uruguay in an intercontinental qualifying tie. Coach Hamad was previously with the Jordanian team 2009-2013 when it reached the World Cup qualifying Round 3 — the furthest Jordan reached in the past seven times since the 1986 qualifiers. 

On the regional level, Jordan played the Round of 16 in the last edition of the Asian Cup. Since first taking part in qualifiers in 1972, Jordan played at the Asian Cup four times: the highlight was at the 13th Asian Cup in 2004, when it lost to Japan in the quarterfinals and jumped to the best ever FIFA Ranking of 37th. They also reached the Asian Cup in 2011, 2015 and 2019. 

U-23 Olympic team

Meanwhile, the national U-23 Olympic team plays Kuwait on Wednesday as the West Asia Championship kicked off in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

Jordan lost its first Group A match 1-0 to Oman on Monday, and plays Yemen on Friday, with the top team from each group moving on to the semis alongside the best second placed team.

The championship is part of final preparations for the Asian U-23 qualifiers in which Jordan will play in Group F against Turkmenistan on October 25 and Palestine on October 30. The top team will move to the U-23 Asian Championship in Uzbekistan in June 2022.

Jordan lately hosted Syria in two friendlies where it beat guests 1-0 and tied the second 2-2. Head Coach Ahmad Hayel was quoted as saying he was content with the performance and results, noting six players were absent as they were on duty with the national team.

In 2020, the U-23 Olympic squad reached the quarterfinals of the 4th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship — a qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Previously, in 2018, Jordan’s U-23 team was knocked out of Round 1 of the 3rd AFC U-23 Championship. In 2016, they reached the quarterfinals and in 2014 they finished third. 

In Asian qualifiers prior to the halt in 2020 due to the pandemic, in 2019, the Kingdom’s other national teams were eliminated in Asian competitions. The U-16 squad failed to advance to the U-16 AFC Championship which serves as a qualifier for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. In the earlier edition, Jordan had bowed out of the Round 1 of the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship. Similarly, the U-16 women’s squad failed to advance to the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship. 

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