What do we know about Jordan? No, not the glamour model (about whom we surely know far too much), but the country, and the football team, and the next UFWC title challengers. The answer, it turns out, is not as lot. So we’d better brush up, and see if current unofficial champions Japan have anything to worry about.
Jordan play Japan in the opening match of the 2011 Asian Cup on 9 January, which also happens to be the next UFWC title match. We know they play in all-white kits, and the team’s nickname is Nashama (which we think means soul, but we don’t speak Arabic so don’t quote us on that). But apart from that, we’re pretty much stumped.
For a start, where is Jordan, or, to give the country its full title, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan? Well, it’s in the Middle East, wedged between Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Israel. It’s got a population of 6.4 million, and is ruled by King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein – a massive football fan.
Jordan have never been involved in a UFWC title match in 138 years of the unofficial competition. So they obviously don’t have a UFWC ranking. They’ve never played in the World Cup either. (The Jordanian women’s team is somewhat more successful – they won the Women’s Football Cup Arabia 2010.)
FIFA rank Jordan 95th in the world, one place above neighbours Iraq. Indeed, Jordan have an Iraqi manager, Adnan Hamad. (He coached his home country on and off for eight years during Saddam Hussein’s reign and fall.) They’ve only played in one previous Asian Cup, in 2004, when they reached the quarter finals.
Striker Mahmoud Shelbaieh and captain Hassouneh Al Sheikh look like players to watch. Many of the current squad play for Jordan’s top clubs Al-Wahdat and Al-Faysali. None of them play in Europe. (There is one Jordanian player in England – Jammal Shahin plays for Selby Town, but he was born in Grimsby, and isn’t in the current Jordan squad.)
Recently, they’ve been in pretty good form, and are unbeaten in five games. They’ve got four pre-Asian Cup friendlies lined up, against Cyprus, Egypt, Bahrain and Uzbekistan, so we should get a better idea of how good they are over the next few weeks. The Cyprus match is this Tuesday, 16 November.
Japan, meanwhile, don’t have any warm-up matches planned, so could be going into the Jordan match relatively cold. Can Jordan cause an almighty upset? If you’ve got any predictions or insights post a comment and let us know.