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Jordan resumes Asian Cup qualifiers against Afghanistan

By Aline Bannayan - Oct 09,2017 - Last updated at Oct 09,2017

AMMAN — Jordan plays Afghanistan on Tuesday as it starts return leg 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers in an away match in Tajikistan.

Jordan which held Bahrain 0-0 in a friendly, again only managed a 1-1 draw with Oman in the latest friendly in Dubai this week before flying to Dushanbe for the qualifier, which will be followed by another against Cambodia on October 14.

Jordan leads Group C and will seek to come back with a win to secure qualification from the group. In the first leg it beat Afghanistan 4-1 after holding Vietnam 0-0 and scoring a 7-0 win over lowly Cambodia.

Vietnam is second in the group after it beat Cambodia 2-1 and held Afghanistan 1-1. Cambodia beat Afghanistan 1-0. The top two teams from each group move to the finals which will be held in the UAE in 2019.

The national team will be without four Faisali players whose suspension has been upheld by the Asian Football Confederation, following the Union of Arab Football Associations one year ban after the ensuing brawl in Faisali’s final match against Esperance Tunis (Tarraji) in the final of the Arab Clubs Championship held in Egypt. Faisali is appealing the decision.

Since first taking part in Asian Cup qualifiers in 1972, Jordan reached the Asian Championship three times. The pinnacle was at the 13th Asian Cup, when Jordan lost to Japan in the quarter-finals. They also reached the Asian Cup in 2011.

Given the limited capabilities of the qualifying Group, advancing to the 2019 Asian Cup should not be a difficult task for Jordan. After elimination from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, qualifying to the Asian finals is a priority but the squad has steadily slid down FIFA rankings and the team has had an inconsistent two years compared to 2013 when Jordan was on the verge of qualifying to the 2014 World Cup for the first time.

Jordan dropped two spots to 110th in the latest FIFA rankings and is still out of the Asian top 10. The team’s best FIFA ranking was 37th in 2004 while the lowest ranking was 152nd in 1996.

 

Compartively, during the 2014 World Cup qualifying journey, Jordan advanced to play then World’s 6th ranked Uruguay in an intercontinental qualifying tie for a place in the 2014 World Cup. It lost the home game 5-0 and held the former World Cup champs 0-0 in the away match. Jordan had never reached that far in World Cup qualifying since taking part in qualifiers. Round 3 had been the furthest Jordan reached in the past seven times in the qualifiers since 1986. 

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