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The ball is in our court!

Dec 17,2022 - Last updated at Dec 17,2022

The current round of 2022 FIFA World Cup, held in Qatar, is one of the most enjoyable rounds, if not the most enjoyable, we have experienced in decades. The main reason, in our opinion, is attributed to the power of the participating teams and their comparable levels of performance.

Unlike in previous competitions, there is no longer a discrepancy in levels between some teams, primarily the European and Latin American, and others.

Which is why we have had a number of real surprises pertaining to the early exist of some major heavyweight teams from the first round, the second and the third.

Asia performed strongly. And so did Africa, one of whose teams, that of the gifted Moroccans, has reached and competed in the semifinals for the first time in history. In fact, they could have easily qualified for the championship game.

The good overall news is that the monopoly of power and elegance in performance is no longer attributed to the usual European and Latin American teams. And this is good for the game, and for the world.

Several lessons will be, and are being, learned by the participating 32 teams: Those who underestimated their rivals and paid a heavy price as a result; those who exerted their best efforts to find out that this was not good enough; and those who came fully prepared and broke records and entered football history books.

This is in general.

Regarding us Arabs, however, there are two additional lessons to take home:

The first is our immense pride in the performance of Arab teams, which was outstanding, despite the fact that some needed to work harder on improving their overall performance and consistency.

It is a shame that Egypt and Algeria could not make it to the 32 teams that came to Qatar, for both performed greatly in the earlier stages.

And the same can be said about the Jordanian team, which over the past few years has improved noticeably, as best manifested in its friendly game with Spain played in Amman before the competitions started, and in which it showed maturity, ability and elegance of performance. The result could have been better, naturally, but the performance was superb.

This is why we say the World Cup is a precious opportunity for lesson learning, self-assessment, and meticulous planning.

For us in Jordan, we should make qualification for the forthcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup a top priority, especially since our team has the talent and the potential, in addition to the fact that 64 teams are expected to qualify this time, rather than the usual 32.

This requires smart planning and a lot of sincere work by all those involved.  It is time for us Jordanians to see our national team competing at this level, and our young people looking up to outstanding Jordanian players as role models, the way they look up to some international and Arab stars.

The second lesson is that interaction with international stars in the game is perhaps the most important means of developing the performance of team members. By this, we do not mean holding friendly games with high calibre international teams, just as the game with Spain referred to above; but, further, hiring more international talent by our national clubs and, perhaps most importantly, enabling our gifted players to play in the best international leagues.

The latter factor, we believe, stands behind the great performance which the Tunisian and, more importantly, the Moroccan team showed in the competition. It is also clearly seen in the performance of the Japanese and Korean teams, in addition to that of several African teams.

If one plays with the stars, one becomes a star.

We realise, of course, that for our individual players and our national team to emerge strongly to the global arena would not be easy. But where there is a will, there is a way.

Yes, we can if we make this a priority and work for it. There is a lot of talent in Jordan, and many of our gifted young people need the opportunity, as well as the right guidance and care.

The ball is in our court.


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