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Jordan kicks off FIFA Arab Cup campaign

By Aline Bannayan - Nov 29,2021 - Last updated at Nov 29,2021

AMMAN — The FIFA Arab Cup — Qatar 2021 kicks off on Tuesday with 16 teams gathering for the return of the competition after a nine-year break.

Jordan kicks off its campaign playing Saudi Arabia in Group C on December 1, before facing titleholders Morocco on December 4, and Palestine on December 7 in the group stages before the top two of the four competing groups move to the quarters.

This edition of the Arab Cup will be the first organised by FIFA and will be held between November 30 to December 18 with some of the best teams in Africa and the Middle East playing a total of 32 games to decide the winner of the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021.

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 its squad contracting COVID-19.

The Kingdom has taken part in the past eight of nine editions of the Arab Cup and hosted the 1988 edition, with their best showing of fourth in 1988 and semifinalists in 2002. 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.

The national team recently dropped one spot to 91st when the latest FIFA Rankings were released. Jordan is now 14th in Asia, still lagging behind relatively uncompetitive Asian teams compared to their best ranking of 37th in 2004.  Iran leads Asian standings followed by Japan, Korea, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, China, Iraq, Oman, Uzbekistan, Syria and Bahrain.

This year, the national team had an early exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and now needs to go through another stage of qualifying to get to the 2023 Asian Cup. The Jordan Football Association handed the reins to Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad who replaced Belgian Vital Borkelmans. In the team’s latest friendlies, Jordan beat world 113th ranked Kosovo 2-0, 84th ranked Uzbekistan 3-0, 154th ranked Malaysia 4-0 and 90th ranked Bahrain 2-1. The team lost to 95th ranked Belarus 1-0 and to 87th ranked Haiti 2-0.

As the final line-up for the Arab Cup was announced, observers were surprised by coach Hamad’s decision excluding leading players, like Ramtha’s ace Mohammad Abu Zureiq and Mus’ab Lahham who led their club 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.

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 taking part in 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 rank of 37th. They also reached the Asian Cup in 2011, 2015 and 2019.


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