The Story Must Go On, photo by Jimmy Baikovicius / Flickr
Jordan v Uruguay
13 November 2013
King Abdullah Stadium, Amman
Uruguay v Jordan
20 November 2013
Estadio Centenario, Montevideo
CONMEBOL World Cup Play-off
Unofficial Football World Champions Uruguay are set to play two of the most important matches in the nation’s proud history over the next few days, on Wednesdays 13 and 20 November. The two-time World Cup winners will be looking to retain the UFWC title and, even more importantly, qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The matches are the two legs of the CONMEBOL World Cup play-off, and the opponent is Jordan. The winner of the two-legged play-off will go to Brazil. The destination of the UFWC title is a little more complicated.
Under UFWC rules, the two legs of the play-off count as two entirely separate matches. Whoever is the winner at the end of 90 minutes of each match will be UFWC champions. (If the match is drawn after 90 minutes, the holder will retain the title.) In the event of an aggregate draw, and if extra time or penalties are required after the second match, this will have no bearing on the UFWC as it will be deciding the outcome of the two-legged play-off, not the individual matches. It is possible that either Uruguay or Jordan could win the second match to become UFWC champions, but lose the play-off and fail to qualify for the World Cup.
Jordan warmed up for this huge double-header with a 1-0 friendly win over Zambia, courtesy of an own goal from Zambia defender Bronson Chama. Al-Nashama (The Chivalrous) are clearly underdogs against La Celeste (The Sky Blue). Jordan are ranked 60th in the world by FIFA, and are unranked by the UFWC. Uruguay currently stand 6th in FIFA’s rankings and 11th in the UFWC’s.
The challengers very nearly became Unofficial Football World Champions in their only previous UFWC title match, against Japan in January 2011. Hasan Abdel-Fattah gave Jordan an unlikely lead, only for Southampton defender Maya Yoshida to grab an injury time equaliser for Japan, meaning that the Japanese retained the UFWC title.
Jordan are coached by Hossam Hassan, the Egyptian former international who remains the record goalscorer for his country. Most of the squad play their club football in Jordan, including veteran defender Hatem Aqel, midfielder Baha’ Abdel-Rahman, and top goalscorer Ahmad Hayel. The only Jordanian squad member who plays his club football in Europe is striker Tha’er Bawab of Romanian side Gaz Metan Medias.
For Uruguay, goalkeeper Fernando Muslera of Galatasaray is our of the squad after pulling a muscle. Striker Luis Suarez, however, should play. Suarez has been given permission to play for Liverpool against Fulham, and will therefore arrive late at the Uruguay training camp in Turkey. Following this week’s news that three Southampton players have been called into the England national squad, it’s worth mentioning that the Saints’ Gaston Ramirez is in the Uruguay squad, as is another England-based player, Diego Lugano of West Bromwich Albion.
The first match, on 13 November, will be played at the 20,000-seater King Abdullah Stadium in Amman. Kick off is 1800 local (1500 GMT), and for viewers in the UK the match will be shown live on British Eurosport.
A week later, on 20 November, the second match will be played at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo. We also hope to bring you live TV and legal streaming options for that match – watch this space. For football on TV, remember that BT Broadband customers can get BT Sport for free.
We’ll have full coverage of both Uruguay versus Jordan matches right here. Few will be betting against Uruguay winning the play-off over two legs. However, there is always the chance of Jordan pulling off a shock over 90 minutes, particularly in their home leg. Join us for the matches, and let us know who you think will win the first match by voting in our poll. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.