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Jordan up to 82nd in FIFA rankings

By Aline Bannayan - Feb 04,2016 - Last updated at Feb 04,2016

AMMAN  — Jordan went up four spots to 82nd in the latest FIFA World Rankings issued on Thursday.

The Kingdom is now 9th in Asia trailing Iran (44), South Korea (53), Saudi Arabia (55), Japan (58), the UAE (65), Australia (68), Uzbekistan (71) and Qatar (78).

Belgium still leads the world top 10 ahead of Argentina, Spain, Germany, Chile, Brazil, Portugal, Columbia, England and Austria. 

The Kingdom beat Egypt 1-0 in a friendly last week under newly assigned interim coach Abdullah Abu Zam’eh. Although Egypt did not employ its senior squad and Jordan played without most pros while some were on the injury list, the match was important as the squad starts the countdown and gets into the mood of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers doubling as part of the qualification for 2019 Asian Cup. 

Jordan will play the last two qualifiers against Bangladesh at home on March 24 and Australia in an away match on March 29. The Kingdom is now second in Group B behind Australia after losing 1-0 to Kyrgyzstan, beating AFC Australia 2-0 and Tajikistan 3-0. In the first leg, Jordan was held to a disappointing 0-0 draw with Kyrgyzstan, beat Tajikistan 3-1, Bangladesh 4-0. 

The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + one slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup. 

It has been an inconsistent year for Jordan’s squad who have seen three coaches leading the vital qualifying process. The line-up was led by Briton Ray Wilkins under whom the team failed to advance past the group stage of the 16th Asian Football Confederation  Asian Cup in 2015 before Ahmad Abdul Qader took over in the transitional phase under whom the team played the first qualifier. Belgian Paul Put took over in July and his contract was suspended as he in the midst of a court case over match fixing in the Belgian League. 

Observers were hoping the Kingdom would again make it to advanced stages of qualifying to the World’s premier football competition. Jordan had the most memorable World Cup qualifying journey in 2013 when it lost a possible chance to play at the World Cup for the first time and advanced to play then World’s 6th ranked Uruguay in an intercontinental qualifying tie for a place in the 2014 World Cup. It lost the home game 5-0 and held the former World Cup champs 0-0 in the away match. Jordan had never reached that far in World Cup qualifying since taking part in the qualifiers as Round 3 had been the furthest Jordan reached in the past seven times in the qualifiers since 1986. 

 

In the Asian Cup, Jordan reached the championship three times since first taking part in qualifiers in 1972: the pinnacle was at the 13th Asian Cup, when it lost to Japan in the quarter-finals and jumped to the best ever FIFA rank of 37th in August 2004. In 2011 Jordan again reached the quarter-finals.

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