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Jordan reassesses U-23 Asian Cup Round 1 exit

By Aline Bannayan - Apr 23,2024 - Last updated at Apr 23,2024

AMMAN — The national U-23 football suffered an early exit at the 6th AFC U23 Asian Cup currently under way in Qatar, after a disappointing performance that left officials and fans puzzled and upset.

Jordan finished last in Group A after holding Australia 0-0, losing to Qatar 2-1 before going down 4-1 to first time Asian Cup qualifiers Indonesia , which earlier lost 2-0 to Qatar and beat Australia 1-0 to finish second in the group behind the hosts, who held Australia 0-0 on the last day of group matches.

Fans anticipated Jordan would score a big win over newcomers Indonesia, to qualify to the quarterfinals and keep hopes alive for a semifinal spot that would possibly advance them to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. However, the team looked in disarray and lost their mark, failing to score, as Indonesia even netted in an own goal as Jordan finished bottom of the group with Qatar and Indonesia advancing to the quarters.

After the senior national team finished runner-up at the 2023 Asian Cup in February, fan expectations were high as most U23 players are stars in Jordanian league clubs, hoping to emulate the success of their seniors. 

Coach Abdullah Abu Zame’h who has come under fire for the team’s below par performance said he bears “full responsibility” for the early exit, nothing that players had given it their all in the first two matches, but played bad in the last encounter.

Observers criticised Abu Zame’h for his choice of lineup, especially sidelining the team’s star goalie Antwan Awad, who excelled at the 5th West Asian Football Federation Championship where the squad finished fifth. Awad was touted by many as Jordan’s next star goalie, reminiscent of now retired goalie Amer Shafie’. The lineup also missed star striker Omar Salah, who was on duty with Qatar’s Wakrah Club in the local league.

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