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Jordan plays Qatar, Japan ahead of Asian Cup

By Aline Bannayan - Jan 04,2024 - Last updated at Jan 06,2024

Spain’s forward Dani Olmo (left) is vying for the ball with Jordan’s midfielder Ibrahim Sadeh during the friendly football match between Jordan and Spain, at the Amman International Stadium on November 17, 2022 (AFP photo)

AMMAN — Jordan’s senior and U-23 squads are battling time as they prepare for their respective Asian competitions.

The senior team started a training camp in Doha as Jordan readies to play hosts Qatar on January 5 and Japan on January 9 in the final two friendlies before the 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar kicking off on January 12, 2024. 

The team’s results have raised concerns after they lost their 5th consecutive match, going down to Lebanon 2-1 in extra time as coach Hussein Amouta enlisted a host of players before naming the final lineup for the Asian Cup.

In seven matches played so far, Jordan is yet to score a victory under coach Amouta, who took over the job in summer. The Moroccan coach told by Al Mamlaka TV, “The team had individual mistakes, and performance inconsistency and  needed a leader figure on the field.”

So far under Amouta, Jordan lost 6-0 to Norway, 2-1 to Azerbaijan, 3-1 to Iran and tied Iraq 2-2 before losing on penalties. 

Amouta is hopeful for an advanced spot in the upcoming Asian Cup, as well as qualifying to the 2026 World Cup, with Asia allotted 8 slots in the next edition in additional to a zonal qualifier after expanding the number to include 48 nations.

The Asian Cup will see 24 teams playing in 6 Groups with Qatar the defending champs. Jordan plays in Group E vs Malaysia (January 15),   South Korea (January 20) and Bahrain (January 25). 

Since first taking part in the Asian Cup qualifiers in 1972, Jordan has qualified to the Asian Cup five times. The highlight was in 2004, when they lost to Japan in the quarterfinals and jumped to the best ever FIFA rank of 37th. They also reached the Asian Cup quarterfinals in 2011. They also qualified in 2015 and 2019 and for the upcoming edition which was delayed from 2023 to January 2024 taking into account the weather in the Arab Gulf.

In Group G qualifiers  for the 23rd World Cup 2026, Jordan had a lackluster start tying Tajikistan 1-1 before losing 2-0 to Saudi Arabia. Jordan is now 3rd in the World Cup qualifying group after Saudi beat Pakistan 4-0 while Tajikistan beat Pakistan 6-1. A total of 36 Asian teams are playing in 9 groups, and the top two teams from each group will advance to Round 3. The Kingdom’s third qualifier against Pakistan is set for March 26. The qualifiers also advance teams to the 2027 Asian Cup.

On the World Cup qualifying scene, the Kingdom was on the verge of qualifying to the 2014 World Cup for the first time and advanced to play then FIFA 6th ranked Uruguay in an intercontinental qualifying tie before exiting the qualifiers. Jordan had never reached that far in World Cup qualifying since first taking part in qualifiers. Round 3 had been the furthest they reached in the  past 7 times since the 1986 qualifiers. 

 

U-23 team off to Iraq

 

Meanwhile, Jordan’s U-23 football team has regrouped as they prepare for to play Iraq on January 9 among a series of friendlies ahead of the 6th AFC U-23 Asian Cup set for April 2024, which qualifiers the top three teams to the Olympics while the fourth will play a playoff to advance. 

The Kingdom was drawn in a tough Group A alongside hosts Qatar, Australia and Indonesia.

Group B includes Japan, Korea, UAE and China.

Group C includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Thailand and Tajikistan;

Group D includes Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kuwait and Malaysia.

During their past participation at the U-23 Asian Cup (previously the Asian Championship), Jordan finished 3rd in 2013, reached the quarterfinals in 2016 and 2020 and were knocked out of the first round in 2018 and 2022.

Despite  challenges in regrouping and training, coach Abdullah Abu Zam’eh successfully guided his team through the qualifiers despite a lackluster preparation agenda. Jordan advanced to their 6th AFC U-23 Asian Cup after clinching the sole qualifying spot from Group A qualifiers finishing unbeaten over Brunei 9-0, Oman 1-0 and Syria 2-0. 

Forty three teams contested the qualifiers in 11 groups with the top team from each group together with four best second placed teams advancing to the U23 Asian Cup alongside hosts Qatar. 

While coach Abdullah Abu Zam’eh tries to maintain a cohesive lineup and training plan with some players on duty with the senior team in 2023 Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers, the U-23 team is hoping the Jordan Football Association will manage to set up a series of competitive friendlies as they ready for the Asian Cup. The lineup lost two against Saudi 2-1 and Qatar 1-0 and earlier also lost to Egypt in a friendly. This year, the team reached the semis of the U-23 West Asian Championship, which they won in 2021 and did not play in 2022.

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