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Jordan national football team to play New Zealand in UAE

By Aline Bannayan - Jan 19,2022 - Last updated at Jan 19,2022

AMMAN — The national football team has restarted its agenda and leaves to the UAE on Thursday to hold a training camp and play 110th ranked New Zealand in a friendly in Abu Dhabi on January 28.

Jordan recently went up one spot to 90th in the latest FIFA Rankings, holding 13th spot in Asia, and still lagging behind relatively uncompetitive Asian teams compared with their best ranking of 37th in 2004.  Iran leads Asian standings followed by Japan, Korea, Australia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, China, Iraq, Oman, Uzbekistan and Syria.

As the line-up for the upcoming match and its preceding camp was announced, coach Adnan Hamad enlisted seven new players including Ramtha’s ace Mohammad Abu Zureiq, who led his club to their first league title in 39 years, while Baha’ Faisal was dropped after he sustained an ACL injury in the Arab Cup.

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.

After an early exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, the national team needs to go through another stage of qualifying to get to the 2023 Asian Cup. The draw will be held in Kuala Lumpur on February 24 while the qualifiers will be held from June 8-14.

The squad ended 2021 on a good note after an impressive showing in the FIFA Arab Cup — Qatar 2021 which was organised by FIFA and included 16 teams from Africa and the Middle East returning to the competition after a nine year break. 

Jordan finished second in Group C after it beat Saudi Arabia 1-0, losing, 4-0 to titleholders Morocco before beating Palestine 5-1 in the group stages. The top two teams of the four competing groups move to the quarters where Jordan put up a strong performance before losing to Egypt 3-1 in extra time. 

The Kingdom had taken part in the past nine of 10 editions of the Arab Cup and hosted the 1988 edition, with it best showing fourth in 1988 and semifinalists in 2002. 

Looking back at the Jordan’s best 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 World Cup qualifying Round 3 was the furthest Jordan reached in the past 7 times since taking part 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 Jordan lost to Japan in the quarterfinals and jumped to the best ever FIFA rank of 37th. They also reached the Asian Cup in 2011, 2015 and 2019.


U-23 team eyes 

Asian draw


Meanwhile, Jordan’s national U-23 team will also regroup to hold a training camp as they prepare for the 5th Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship in Uzbekistan in June 2022.

 The team is waiting for the February 17 draw after they booked a qualifying spot from Group F in Asian U-23 qualifiers as 39 teams played for 15 spots to join hosts Uzbekistan in the final championship which will be held in Central Asia for the first time.

It will be the 5th time for Jordan in the Asian U-23 championship. In 2014, Jordan finished third; in 2016, it reached the quarter-finals; in 2018, Jordan was knocked out of Round 1; and in 2020, it reached the quarter-finals.

On the regional scene, Jordan won the title of the 2021 West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) U-23 Championship in which they beat hosts Saudi Arabia in the final. 

 In 2015, Jordan was eliminated in the group stages of the first edition of the WAFF U-23 Championship won by Iran, before they moved to the Central Asian Football Association.

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