AMMAN — The national football team is putting finishing touches on preparations and are set to leave on Friday for the 7th West Asian Championship kicking off in Kuwait on Saturday.
The upcoming West Asian event ends on December 20 and includes 11 teams with the top team from each group as well as the best second-placed team moving to the semis.
Titleholders Kuwait will play in Group A alongside Oman, Lebanon and Palestine.
Iran will play in Group B alongside Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Jordan plays in Group C and faces Iraq on December 10 and Syria on December 16.
“We are heading to Kuwait to play for the title,” head coach Adnan Hamad told the media after the line-up regrouped at the Hussein Youth City’s Petra Stadium.
The squad was completed after Wihdat and Shabab Urdun played their postponed league match as well as Baqaa, who lost their away game in the Arab Clubs Cup 1-0 to Yemen’s Shaab Ibb and won the return leg 3-0 to qualify to Round 3.
The coach brought in new faces to the squad noting “the changes were not final”, as he explained the recall of players from the U-22 squad as well as others who were on duty in World Cup qualifiers, including goalkeeper Amer Shafie, who were dropped.
Hamad noted the team has a busy agenda ahead with the West Asian event, the Asian Cup qualifiers and the remaining World Cup qualifiers. “The strategic purpose is to keep the Jordanian team competitive in Asia”, he added.
Initiated by Jordan in 2000 and headed by HRH Prince Ali, president of the Jordan Football Association (JFA) and the West Asian Football Federation (WAFF), the Kingdom’s best finish at the event was runners-up in 2002 and 2008. Iran won the title for the fourth time in 2008. Iraq won the title once in 2002 as did Kuwait in 2010. Syria was runners-up twice.
The national team lost 1-0 to Iraq in their latest Leg 2, Round 4 Group B 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifying match complicating their chances of possibly reaching the World Cup. With another three matches to go, Jordan so far drew 1-1 with Iraq, lost 6-0 to Japan and 2-1 to Oman, and scored a historic 2-1 win over Australia.
The late regrouping of pros playing abroad and possibly the ageing line-up of players were cited as reasons for the team’s declining form by some analysts. Others noted that pro players were not given ample playing time in their respective clubs which reflected negatively on their performance with the national team.
Following the West Asian event, Jordan will play the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers starting February 6, 2013, in which Jordan was drawn in Group A with Oman, Syria and Singapore. They will also resume return leg World Cup qualifiers by hosting Japan on March 26, 2013, Australia on June 11, 2013 and Oman on June 18, 2013.
The Jordanian team joined the continent’s top 10 qualifying teams in the final qualifying Round 4 for the first time since taking part in the qualifiers back in 1985.
Jordan is now 90th in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, the lowest of 2012.