Pakistan take on strong Jordan today [The News]

Pakistan take on strong Jordan today [The News]

by Abdul Mohi Shah

ISLAMABAD: After freshly coming out of the success that propelled them to Asia Cup final beating some of the best outfits on their way, Jordan seem ready to fire on all cylinders against Pakistan to increase their goal average in the Group G of the World Cup 2026 Qualifying round today (Thursday).

With one loss and one draw from the two outings, Jordan are placed just ahead of Pakistan in Pool G of the qualifying round. The points table could see marked change within a day as Jordan has brought the best outfit to utilize the opportunity coming its way.

Pool’s minnows Pakistan would be looking forward to concede minimum goals against a powerful outfit.“All other teams in the group are far stronger. We are just beginners in Asia as we are here playing home and away fixtures for the very first time. All other three group teams Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tajikistan are far better sides,” conceded Stephen Constantine, Pakistan team head coach during his media talk a day ahead of the match.

Pakistan lost to Tajikistan 6-1 at home a few months back on the same field of the Jinnah Stadium. Things could even turn worse for the host nation as Jordan are considered even stronger opponents. “I personally feel Jordan is the best team in Pool G and they proved that during their Asia Cup campaign,” Pakistan coach said, adding that Pakistan are gaining experience and exposure with each passing match.

“We have gained a lot from the two matches we have played so far during the World Cup qualifying stage. We played top brand of soccer against Saudi Arabia in an away match. Hopefully, the players will not repeat mistakes they committed during the home match against Tajikistan.” England-based coach associated with Pakistan team for the last few months again cautioned that it was all about playing regular matches.

“You cannot improve unless and until you play regular football and keep on getting international exposure on regular basis.”He added that lack of training could prove crucial in upcoming matches.

“We are not getting the exposure we need. We are going into the match against Jordan on Thursday with far less training that is required at this level.” Constantine, however, was optimistic on the outcome, saying that his team would go for the win.

“We would go all guns blazing to earn a win. We know we are playing against a team that is one of the best in the continent, yet we hope that Thursday will not be their best day.” He said his charges are geared up to make the best use of opportunity coming their way.“Players are anxious to put their best and win the day for the country.”

Constantine has planned a few more international matches in coming months to help the team attain a level where they can qualify for the Asia Cup.“When I was with India, it took me four years to help them qualify for the Asia Cup. What we need is league and regular football to qualify for the big event. The exposure and experience here would help Pakistan raise a better outfit for the Asia Cup qualifying match.”

Jordan coach Al Hussain Al Musa who also spoke to media turned down the impression that the visitors were expecting a cake walk against minnows of Group Pakistan in the qualifiers on Thursday.

“No World Cup Qualifying match is a cakewalk. Let me make it clear that we respect Pakistan as a team. There are some good players. We have to play our best game to beat Pakistan by a good margin. We definitely required a big win against Pakistan to make rapid progress in the group. For that we will have to put on display our A game.”

Jordan team coach clarified that the reason behind their late arrival was nothing to do with the Pakistan team.“It is not like that winning against Pakistan is guaranteed. We only reached here a day ahead of the match as some of our best players were busy playing top club competition in different parts of the world. We were waiting for them to arrive before departing.”

From here on Al Hussain said victory would only pacify Jordan.“We are looking forward to winning every match we play from here on.” Two Jordanian players Abu Hasheesh and Abdullah Naseeb are on yellow cards.

Jordan have reached Pakistan after 18 years. The last time they played against Pakistan was in 2018 when they defeated the home side 3-0.Ranked 70 in the world, Jordan will be playing against 195 ranked Pakistan.

Jordan Squad: Yazid Abu Laila, Ahmed Al-Jaidi, Abdullah Al-Fakhouri, Yazan Al-Arab, Baraa Marhi, Anas Bani Yassin, Saad Al-Rousan, Ihsan Haddad, Firas Shalbaya, Salem Al-Ajalin, Mahmoud Shawkat, Nizar Al-Rashdan, Ibrahim Saada, Nour Al-Rawabdeh, Rajai Ayed, Youssef Abu Jalbush, Saleh Ratib, Mahmoud Mardi, Muhammad Abu Rizk, Ali Alwan, Muhammad Abu Zureiq “Sharara”, Musa Al-Taamari, and Yazan Al-Naimat.

Pakistan squad: Goalkeepers: Yousuf Butt (D), Saqib Hanif, Abdul Basit and Hassan Ali; Defenders: Easah Suliman (D), Abdullah Iqbal (D), Mamoon Musa, Haseeb Khan, Mohammad Saddam, Mohammad Sohail, Omer Rao, Mohammad Fazal (D) and Mohammad Adeel; Midfielders: Rahis Nabi (D), Harun Hamid (D), Alamgir Ghazi, Rajab Ali, Ali Uzair, Shayek Dost and Abdul Samad (D); Forwards: FareedUllah, Waleed Khan, Imran Kayani (D) and Adeel Younis.

Published in The News, 21 March 2024