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Jordan plays Kosovo, Belarus this week in friendly matches

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

AMMAN — The Jordan national football team faces world 113th ranked Kosovo in a friendly in Pristina on Wednesday in the first match of their European training camp as they prepare for the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar in December.

The team is later set to leave for Minsk to play 95th ranked Belarus on November 16 in their second friendly — the last before the Arab Cup kicks off with the Kingdom playing in Group C alongside, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. 

Jordan advanced in the preliminary round qualifier, overcoming South Sudan on a technicality after the latter was forced to forfeit the match with over six members of the squad contracting the Corona virus. 

The Kingdom has taken part in past eight Arab Cups and hosted the 1988 edition. Iraq are 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.

As the line-up was announced observers were surprised by coach Adnan Hamad’s decision not to include Ramtha’s Mus’ab Lahham, who led his team to their first league title in 39 years, as well as U-23 national squad leader Mohammad Abdul Mutalleb, who led the team to their 2021 West Asian Football Federation U-23 Championship title, on the roaster.

The national team recently went up three spots to 90th when the latest FIFA Rankings were released. Jordan is now 13th in Asia, still lagging behind relatively uncompetitive Asian teams compared to its best ranking of 37th in 2004.  Iran leads Asian standings followed by Japan, Australia, Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, China, Oman, Uzbekistan and Syria.

Last month, Jordan hosted a three nation tournament in Amman, in which they beat 84th ranked Uzbekistan 3-0 and 154th ranked Malaysia 4-0. The two wins made up for the squad’s dismal performance after Jordan lost to little known Haiti 2-0 and managed a 2-1 win over Bahrain which beat Haiti lost 6-1 in the first friendly tourney since coach 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. 

Looking back at the Jordan’s top showing, 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 World Cup qualifying Round 3 was the furthest Jordan reached in the past seven times since the 1986 qualifiers. 

In the Asian Cup, Jordan has reached the tournament four times since first taking part in qualifiers in 1972: the highlight was at the 13th Asian Cup in 2004, when they lost to Japan in the quarter-finals and jumped to the best ever FIFA Ranking of 37th. They also reached the Asian Cup finals in 2011, 2015 and 2019.


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