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Jordan to play Columbia Saturday

By Aline Bannayan - Jun 04,2014 - Last updated at Jun 04,2014

AMMAN — The national football team is gearing up to meet Columbia, the world's No. 5, in a friendly in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires on Saturday.

Columbia is set to play its first World Cup match on June 14, while Jordan kicks off a series of high level friendlies in preparation for the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Asian Cup 2015 in Australia.

Jordan is 64th in the latest FIFA rankings, and sixth among AFC teams. 

The squad regrouped last week following the end of most matches on the local agenda as technical director Hosam Hasan named the preliminary lineup to face Columbia, with many stars like goalie Amer Shafie, league top scorer Hamzeh Dardour, and Amer Deeb missing. 

Observers noted the coach had dropped these players for their conduct in training or matches and not for technical competency. Missing from the squad due to injury and other personal reasons will be Shadi Abu Hashhash, Khalil Bani Atiyeh, Anas Jbarat and Thaer Bawab.

The Asian Cup qualifiers included 25 teams playing in five groups of four teams each. 

The top two teams from each group and the best third-placed team qualified to the tournament set for January 9, 2015. Jordan advanced to the Asian Cup finals after finishing second in Group A qualifiers behind leader Oman. The team will play in Group D with 2011 holder Japan, Iraq and Palestine.

Teams qualifying automatically to the finals include 2011 Asian Cup champions Japan, third-placed South Korea, host and runner-up Australia, AFC Challenge Cup 2012 winner North Korea, and the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup champ Palestine.

The Jordan Football Association has scheduled six other matches aimed at giving the lineup optimum competitive experience against leading teams as it prepares for the third participation in the Asian Cup. 

Apart from the Columbia match, Jordan will host Uzbekistan on September 3, China on September 9, Malaysia on October 11, South Korea on November 14, the UAE on December 31 and Bahrain on January 4, 2105 ahead of the kickoff in Australia.

Jordan reached the Asian Cup twice: In the 13th cup, the squad lost to Japan in the quarterfinals and jumped to the best ever FIFA rank of 37th in August 2004. In 2011, Jordan again reached the quarterfinals where it lost to Uzbekistan.

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