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Jordan plays UAE in quarters

By Aline Bannayan - Jan 18,2014 - Last updated at Jan 18,2014

AMMAN — The national U-22 football team plays the UAE on Sunday in the quarter-finals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-22 Championship currently under way in Muscat, Oman.

Jordan topped Group A after beating Myanmar 6-1, holding South Korea 1-1 and beating hosts Oman 1-0. Jordan and South Korea qualified from the group as Syria and the UAE moved from Group B, Australia and Japan from Group C, and Iraq and Saudi Arabia from Group D.

Local Arabic dailies reported that the AFC had suspended team captain Hamzeh Dardour for one match following an altercation with the linesman after the Myanmar match.

Head of the delegation Fayez Abu Arida told the press: "We do not want this to affect the team in any way. We always have options." Abu Arida said Jordan will not contest the decision, adding "let his be a lesson for all to be careful in the future".

The Kingdom's performance has impressed observers despite the absence from latest friendlies of seven key players who were on national team duty at the 8th West Asian Championship. The line-up was completed in the final two days ahead of the inaugural U-22 tournament after Jordan played two friendlies, losing 2-1 to China and tying the UAE 1-1.

Local Arabic dailies reported head coach Islam Diyabat underlining the team has a vital mission: "This line-up will soon represent the Jordanian national team. Our aim is to return back to Amman with the title."

Coach Dayyan Saleh added: "We achieved our aim. We have continued to improve from one match to another. We have faced tough teams and now aim to reach the final."

Jordan was the first to qualify to the inaugural AFC U-22 Championship finals after leading Group D qualifiers with an unbeaten run, beating Uzbekistan 3-1, Nepal 3-0, Bangladesh 3-0 and Yemen 4-0.

The second edition in 2015 will qualify teams to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The U-22 has had a string of camps and friendlies leading up to the finals. They played two matches in Bahrain, where they beat Al Hadd Club 3-2 and lost to their hosts 1-0. They also had 18 friendlies during the past year. Jordan beat Malaysia 5-0 and 3-1. They lost 2-0 to Saudi Arabia and 1-0 to Qatar after a string of undefeated matches as Jordan tied Bahrain 2-2 and 1-1 and won 1-0 twice. They also beat Egypt 4-0, Kuwait 1-0 and 2-1, Oman 2-1, Lebanon 5-0 and held Cyprus 0-0. In local matches they beat Manshieh 3-0 and Ramtha 2-0.

Officials hope the U-22 team will follow up on the achievements of the senior team that reached the Asian Cup quarters twice and also reached an intercontinental qualifying tie against the Uruguay for a place in the World Cup.

Previously, the Kingdom reached the AFC U-19 Championship four times. In 2006, the team achieved the country's biggest football sporting success when they finished fourth at the championship and qualified to the 2007 FIFA Youth World Cup in Canada.

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