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Jordan plays Bahrain ahead of Asian qualifiers

By Aline Bannayan - Aug 28,2017 - Last updated at Aug 28,2017

AMMAN — The national team will face Bahrain on Tuesday in its only friendly ahead of resuming its Asian Cup qualifying journey against Afghanistan as of September 5.

Jordan leads Group C after it scored a 7-0 win over lowly Cambodia in its opening qualifier, but was held 0-0 with Vietnam in its second qualifier and returned home amid ambiguity over the team’s readiness. Cambodia beat Afghanistan 1-0, while Vietnam held Afghanistan 1-1.

Given the limited capabilities of its qualifying group, qualifying to the 2019 Asian Cup should not be a difficult task for Jordan. However, officials note the need to return to the competitive Asian level. After elimination from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, advancing to the Asian finals is a priority. The Kingdom has steadily slid down FIFA Rankings and the team has had an inconsistent two years compared to 2013 when Jordan was on the verge of qualifying to the 2014 World Cup for the first time.

The team stayed at 108th in the latest FIFA Rankings and is still out of the Asian top 10 trailing Iran (24), Japan (44), Australia (45), South Korea (49), Saudi Arabia (59), Uzbekistan (64), the UAE (74), China (8772), Qatar (78), Syria (80), Palestine (93), India (97) and Iraq (102). Jordan’s best ranking was 37th in 2004, while its lowest was 152nd in 1996.

The national team is set to play Afghanistan in its third qualifier on September 5 followed by two friendlies against Kenya on September 17-19, before playing Oman on October 4 ahead of return leg against Afghanistan on October 10 and Cambodia on October 14.

Since first taking part in Asian Cup qualifiers in 1972, Jordan reached the Asian Championship three times. The pinnacle was at the 13th Asian Cup, when Jordan lost to Japan in the quarter-finals and jumped to the best ever FIFA Ranking of 37th in August 2004. They also reached the Asian Cup in 2011 and 2015.

 

During the 2013 World Cup qualifying journey, Jordan advanced to play then World’s 6th ranked Uruguay in an intercontinental qualifying tie for a place in the 2014 World Cup. However, Jordan 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. Round 3 had been the furthest Jordan reached in the past seven times in the qualifiers since 1986.

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