Unfancied Jordan on brink of last eight

Posted By: Pti

Doha, Jan 14 (AFP) Unfancied Jordan were on the brink ofthe Asian Cup knockout stages today after they held offregional heavyweights Saudi Arabia 1-0, knocking thethree-times champions out of the tournament.

Jordan need just a draw in their final Group B gameagainst Syria on Monday to make it through to the last eight,for what would be a major achievement for the kingdom of 6.5million people.

Adnan Hamed''s men are proving to be one of thesurprise-packages of the tournament so far. They were beatingJapan, one of the favourites, until they conceded aninjury-time equaliser to draw 1-1 in their opening game.

Then they profited from a glaring blunder by Saudi Arabiagoalkeeper Waleed Abdullah yesterday to squeeze past theSaudis.

Saudi Arabia coach Nasser Al Johar, whose team had thelion''s share of possession but created few clear-cut chances,said Jordan had been lucky.

But Hamed, an Iraqi who has fostered a defensive sidethat plays on the break, disagreed.

"To win against Saudi Arabia is a big achievement and infootball there are things that happen and that you can''tcontrol," he said.

"We played with good tactical discipline and Saudi Arabiadidn''t have a lot of scoring chances. We could have scoredanother goal from the quick counter attacks that we had and Ibelieve that our team deserved to win."

The experienced Hamed said his game plan was to hold theSaudis level in the first-half and sneak a goal in the second.

But it didn''t quite turn out like that, as Baha Abdelrahman''scross crept in three minutes before half-time.

Keeper Waleed totally misjudged the flight of the balland could only look back as it curled into the top corner.

The Jordan team ran to their supporters at the end of thegame at the Al-Rayyan Stadium as players and fans wildlycelebrated the upset. The players were even chanting on theteam bus as they pulled away from the ground.

But Hamed cautioned against complacency.

"I want to thank the players for the great game theyshowed despite being under big pressure," he said.

"But we still have a lot of work to do, although ourambitions are big now and hopefully we can carry on in thetournament as far as possible."

Striker Odai Al Saify, who was always a willing outlet torelieve pressure on the Jordan defence, said his side hadlearnt from conceding the late leveller against Japan.

"It was a disappointing result because we conceded theequaliser against them very late in the game and lost twopoints," he said.

"Against Saudi Arabia, the game was very important forJordan. All of our players were very determined to producesomething special as we really wanted to take the three pointsto go to the next round." (AFP) SNK

Story first published: Friday, January 14, 2011, 17:00 [IST]
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