The Jordanian national football team find themselves on the verge of a historic moment as they gear up to face South Korea in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup in Qatar on Tuesday.
This remarkable achievement was considered unlikely by many prior to the tournament, especially considering the challenging phase “Al-Nashama” experienced in terms of results under the management of Moroccan coach Hussein Amouta. The team suffered a 1-2 defeat to Lebanon in a friendly before their journey to Doha, which led some to predict the coach’s dismissal. The team’s preparation period also witnessed substantial setbacks, including a 0-6 loss to Norway and a 1-6 defeat to Japan.
However, Amouta, with his tactical expertise, created a balanced and bold offensive strategy that has propelled the Jordanian national team into the semi-finals for the first time in their history. In their previous four participations, the offensive output of the “Nashama” team had never surpassed five goals. In the current edition in Qatar, they have found the net ten times in five matches, marking their most successful campaign in the history of their continental participation.
Their campaign started with a great 4-0 victory over Malaysia, featuring braces from Montpellier’s French star Musa Al-Taamari and Mahmoud Al-Mardi. They then were seconds away from defeating South Korea, before the latter tied the score at 2-2.
At the end of the group stage, Jordan strategically avoided a victory against Bahrain (0-1) to sidestep a clash with Japan in the round of 16, a move the coach diplomatically denied.
In the crucial round 16 match against Iraq, Amouta’s plan nearly backfired, requiring two stoppage-time goals to secure a hard-fought 3-2 victory after the expulsion of Iraqi player Ayman Hussein.
In their third-ever quarter-final appearance in the Asian competition, following 2004 and 2011 with Al-Jawhari and Hamad, Jordan secured a place in the last four by overcoming Tajikistan with a lonely goal.
The success that Amouta (54 years old) achieved with Jordan is considered a new accomplishment in his coaching career. Previously, he led Morocco to victory in the African Cup for local players (2020), Wydad Casablanca to the African Champions League (2017), and FUS Rabat to the Confederation Cup (2010). He also achieved several local titles with Qatari club, Al Sadd.
The coach from the city of Khemisset, who took over the leadership from the Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad last June, consistently emphasizes the importance of the offensive aspect of the game. He stated, “We hope that the circumstances will serve us to focus on enhancing offensive effectiveness, creating opportunities, and converting them into goals in crucial matches.”
Despite facing the challenge of missing the services of defender Salem Al-Ajalin and striker Ali Alwan due to suspension, the coach addressed the criticism he received before the tournament began, stating, “Criticism is normal, and the coach is always the weakest link. However, my efforts have started to bear fruit, and I am satisfied with what has been achieved so far. We do not intend to stop here.”
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