Jordan dreaming of one more upset against Uruguay
By Patrick Johnston
(Reuters) - Injuries and suspensions have toughened the already daunting task for underdogs Jordan ahead of their World Cup playoff against Uruguay but they are daring to dream of another shock and a first appearance in the finals.
The two meet in the first leg of the intercontinental playoff at the Amman International Stadium on Wednesday (1500GMT) with the South Americans expected to sweep aside the Jordanians, who have exceeded all expectations in making it this far.
Jordan bounced back from a 6-0 mauling by Japan and a 4-0 hammering by Australia in Asian qualifying to shock the Blue Samurai and the Socceroos at home and sneak into a playoff with Uzbekistan, which they edged 9-8 on penalties in September to set up the Uruguay tie.
Plucky and organized on their home turf, Jordan have enjoyed great success from set pieces with the pace and trickery of Ahmad Ibrahim, who scored a brilliant solo effort in the 2-1 win over Japan. Abdullah Deeb Salim and Odai Al-Saify are also a threat going forward.
But Uruguay, twice world champions and fourth last time in South Africa, are a far greater proposition than anyone Jordan have faced along the long road through qualifying, which has taken them to Nepal, Singapore, China, Iraq and many others.
The South Americans boast formidable firepower in Edinson Cavani, of Paris St Germain, and Luis Suarez of Liverpool with much-traveled Diego Forlan now of Internacional, Brazil, a handy substitute.
Jordan's attempts to thwart them are hindered by the suspension of goalkeeper Amer Shafi, the hero against Uzbekistan, while captain and experienced midfielder Amer Deeb will also be absent having been surprisingly left out of the squad.
Attacking midfielder Hasan Abdul Fattah is another deemed surplus to requirements by Jordan coach Hossan Hassam, who has injury concerns over defenders Mohammad Al-Dmeiri and Anas Bani Yaseen ahead of easily the biggest match in their history. Continued...