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Jordan restarts World Cup qualifying journey

By Aline Bannayan - Jun 06,2021 - Last updated at Jun 06,2021

AMMAN — Jordan’s national football team plays Nepal on Monday as they resume their qualifiers for 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup in Kuwait from June 7-15.

Jordan is aiming to restart the remaining Group B qualifiers, which were halted last year amid the amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with a win over 171st ranked Nepal before facing hosts 148th ranked Kuwait on June 11 and 41st ranked Australia on June 15 with the hope of advancing to the next round as one of the best second place finishers.

Australia lead Group B while Jordan is third, level on points with Kuwait, Nepal is fourth and Taiwan fifth. 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.

Before leaving to Kuwait, the national team held a training camp in Dubai during which the team appeared below form, holding 92nd ranked Vietnam 1-1 after losing to 73rd ranked UAE 5-1. The Kingdom’s head coach Belgian Vital Borkelmans was quoted in the media as saying that the team needed to ‘’overcome the big loss, disappointing defeat to the UAE’’, acknowledging he held full responsibility for the team’s form and results, while underlining the focus should be on qualifying. 

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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