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National football team readies for friendlies in Dubai

By Aline Bannayan - Mar 18,2021 - Last updated at Mar 18,2021

AMMAN — Jordan's national football team has arrived in Dubai and started preparations for their upcoming three matches in the final phase of friendlies ahead of the resumption of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.

Jordan will play Oman on March 20 and Lebanon on March 24 before leaving to Manama to play Bahrain on March 30, then returning home. 

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) shifted the date and location of qualifiers which are now set to be played in Kuwait June 7-15. Previously set for March, travel and quarantine restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have been cited as the reasons for the joint AFC-FIFA agreement to move the fixtures and adopt a centralised approach to the remaining qualifiers which were halted since November 2019.

"The AFC continues to place the health and safety of players, teams, match officials and all stakeholders as the highest priority and will work together with its member associations to closely monitor the situation in the region," a statement from the AFC read.

The Asian qualifiers were halted last year amid the pandemic after teams played five matches. Australia lead Group B, and Jordan shares second spot with matches remaining against Kuwait, Nepal and Australia. The top team from each of the eight competing groups and four best second place finishers will move to the 2023 Asian Cup finals and Round 3 of World Cup qualifiers. So far, Jordan beat Taipei 5-0 and 2-1; lost 1-0 to Australia; held Kuwait 0-0 and beat Nepal 3-0.

The four teams in the third round will join tournament hosts Qatar at the World Cup, with a further spot possibly secured by an Asian team via the intercontinental play-off.

In latest FIFA Rankings, Jordan stayed in the 95th overall spot and 15th in Asia lagging behind relatively uncompetitive Asian teams.

The Kingdom recently last held a training camp in Dubai where they lost 2-0 to world's 85th ranked Uzbekistan 2-0, beat 121st ranked Tajikistan 2-0 before losing 1-0 in the second encounter. They also lost 1-0 to Russia's Premier league leaders FC Zenit Saint Petersburg and held Ukraine's FC Dynamo Kyiv 0-0.

Looking back at the Jordan's peak performance, in 2013, the team was on the verge of qualifying to the 2014 World Cup for the first time and advanced to play then World's 6th ranked Uruguay in an intercontinental qualifying tie. The Kingdom had never reached that far in World Cup qualifying since first taking part in qualifiers. Round 3 had been the furthest Jordan reached in the past seven times since 1986 qualifiers.

In Asia, Jordan reached the Round of 16 in the last edition of the Asian Cup. Since first taking part in Asian Cup qualifiers in 1972, Jordan reached the Asian Cup four times. The highlight was at the 13th Asian Cup in 2004, when they lost to Japan in the quarter-finals and jumped to the best ever FIFA rank of 37th. They also reached the Asian Cup finals in 2011, 2015 and 2019.

Regionally, Jordan finished runner-up to Bahrain at the 9th West Asian Championship in 2019. It was the fourth time for Jordan in the final after 2002, 2008 and 2014.  Iran won the title for the fourth time in 2008. Iraq won the title once in 2002, Kuwait in 2010, Syria in 2012 and Qatar in 2014 and Bahrain in 2019.

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