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Jordan plays host Kuwait in World Cup qualifier

By Aline Bannayan - Jun 09,2021 - Last updated at Jun 09,2021

AMMAN — Jordan’s national football team plays Kuwait on Friday in a vital match as both teams seek to qualify from Group B in its 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers currently under way in Kuwait until June 15.

Jordan beat Nepal 3-0 as they resumed qualifiers that were halted last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While the win over 171st ranked Nepal was expected, the bigger challenge is beating hosts, 148th ranked Kuwait, on June 11 before facing 41st ranked Australia on June 15 with the hope of advancing to the next round as one of the best second place finishers. 

Australia beat Taiwan 5-1 to maintain group lead as Jordan moved to second ahead of Kuwait leaving Nepal fourth and Taiwan fifth. Last year, the qualifiers were halted after teams played five matches. Jordan beat Taiwan 5-0 and 2-1, lost 1-0 to Australia, held Kuwait 0-0 and beat Nepal 3-0. 

After Qatar qualified from Group E and as hosts of the upcoming World Cup, rules now stipulate the top team from each of the eight competing groups and five best second place finishers will move to the 2023 Asian Cup finals and Round 3 of World Cup qualifiers. The four teams in the third round will join tournament hosts Qatar at the World Cup, with a further spot possibly secured by an Asian team via the intercontinental play-off.

In latest FIFA Rankings, Jordan stayed 95th overall and 15th in Asia lagging behind relatively uncompetitive Asian teams.

Travel and quarantine restrictions delayed the start of the qualifiers leading to the joint Asian Football Confederation (AFC)- FIFA agreement to adopt a centralised approach to the remaining qualifiers. The top team from each of the eight competing groups and four best second place finishers will move to the 2023 Asian Cup finals and Round 3 of World Cup qualifiers. The four teams in the third round will join tournament hosts Qatar at the World Cup, with a further spot possibly secured by an Asian team via the intercontinental play-off.

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. The Kingdom had never reached that far in World Cup qualifying since first taking part in qualifiers. Round 3 had been the furthest Jordan reached in the past seven times since 1986 qualifiers. 

On the regional level, Jordan reached 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 Jordan lost to Japan in the quarter-finals and jumped to the best ever FIFA Ranking of 37th. They also reached the Asian Cup in 2011 and 2015 and 2019.

 

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