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Jordan hosts Bangladesh in Asian qualifier

By Aline Bannayan - Mar 23,2016 - Last updated at Mar 23,2016

AMMAN — Jordan is upbeat as it hosts Bangladesh on Thursday in its return leg Group B qualifier for the 2018 World Cup  doubling as part of the qualification for 2019 Asian Cup.

The Kingdom, now second in the group after losing 1-0 to Kyrgyzstan in its last qualifier, now needs a win ahead of its decisive away match against group leaders Australia on March 29.

After an interim inconsistent period following their November qualifier HRH Prince Ali, chairman of the Jordan Football Association on Tuesday introduced Harry Redknapp who will lead the team in the upcoming period with a focus on reaching the Asian Championship and keep World Cup qualifying chances alive.

Prince Ali attended team practice and underlined players were up to the task ahead. "Let us take things at a time, focus on winning the next two matches and rally around our squad," the Prince added urging fans to boost team morale in the upcoming match on Thursday.

Redknapp sounded optimistic although he has a tough task with the little time to prepare the line-up. "I have come here to win the upcoming two matches. It will not be easy but it's a challenge we must win. We have to believe we can do it," he added.

Redknapp guided Tottenham into the UEFA Champions League for the very first time in 2009–10 the season. He previously managed Bournemouth, West Ham United, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Queens Park Rangers. In his second spell at Portsmouth, he managed the side that won the 2008 FA Cup.

With the match against group leader Australia less than a week away, Jordan is now second in Group B behind Australia after losing 1-0 to Kyrgyzstan, beating 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.  

Forty teams are playing home and away in a round-robin format in the current second qualifying round which ends in March. 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 + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup. 

Jordan is 82nd in latest FIFA World rankings but observesr noted the drawbacks of not playing friendlies ahead of the last two qualifiers and only beating Egypt 1-0 earlier this year under interim coach Abdullah Abu Zam'eh. Egypt did not employ its senior squad and Jordan played without most pros while some were on the injury list. 

The Kingdom had the most memorable World Cup qualifying journey in 2013 when it advanced to play then World's 6th ranked Uruguay in an intercontinental qualifying tie for a place in the 2014 World Cup. Jordan lost the home game 5-0 and held the former World Cup champ 0-0 in the away match. Jordan had never reached that far in World Cup qualifying since taking part in the qualifiers as of 1985. Round 3 had been the furthest Jordan reached in the  past 7 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 they 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.

In 2015, Jordan's lineup was led by Briton Ray Wilkins under whom the team failed to advance past 8 groups stage of the 16th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup. 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 after he got caught in the midst of a court case over match fixing in the  Belgian league. 

Group B standings

Team

P

D

L

GF

GA

Pts

Australia

6

5

0

1

17

3

15

Jordan 

6

4

1

1

12

2

13

Kyrgyzstan

7

3

2

2

9

8

11

Tajikistan

6

1

2

3

9

12

5

Bangladesh

7

0

1

6

2

24

1

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