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Jordan eye Uzbek upset in last eight

sports Updated: Jan 18, 2011 16:26 IST
AFP
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Jordan coach Adnan Hamad admits his side were fortunate to beat Syria but is now relishing an Asian Cup quarter-final showdown against unbeaten Uzbekistan.

The Jordanians needed just a point from their final group game on Monday to book their place in the last eight in only their second appearance at the continental championships.

And they succeeded by coming from behind to see off neighbours Syria 2-1 thanks to two defensive errors.

They deservedly fell behind after just 15 minutes in a game Syria had to win to go through at Jordan's expense, before Syria defender Ali Dyab headed into his own goal on the half hour to bring Jordan back into the game.

They sealed victory just before the hour thanks to more poor defending, as goalkeeper Amer Shafi's long kick upfield bounced through to striker Odai Al Saify, who fired home past Shafi's stranded opposite number.

Syrian coach Tita Valeriu was furious at his side's capitulation and Hamad admitted his side, who were outplayed in the first half, were given a huge helping hand.

"The mistake by the Syrian defender put them under pressure," the Iraqi said.

"The goal came for us at a crucial time, that is why we were able to fight back. The Syrian team is very strong, though. They have good players and a good future."

With Syria a goal down with half an hour left, and needing three points to get through the group, the nearly 10,000 crowd at Qatar Sports Club Stadium might have expected them to throw the kitchen sink at Jordan.

But the anticipated onslaught never came and Jordan cruised through the last period of the match barely troubled.

"The performance of the Syrian team in the second-half was unexpected. I guess it was because of changes and their formation. This gave us a chance to control the game," Hamad said.

"Syria had the upper hand when they scored the first goal. There were mistakes from us in the first-half but we rectified those in the second."

Jordan face Uzbekistan on Friday for a place in the semi-finals. While the Uzbeks were impressive in topping their group unbeaten, Hamad's men are similarly yet to taste defeat and confidence is high.

They finished second in Group B behind regional giants Japan only on goal difference after drawing with the East Asians 1-1 in their first game before defeating three-times champions Saudi Arabia 1-0.

Bustling match-winner Al Saify described it as his most important goal ever.

"It's my first goal in the Asian Cup and it was very important for us," said the striker, who limped off in stoppage time with what appeared to be a hamstring problem, leaving him doubtful for the Uzbek clash.

"Uzbekistan will be very difficult opponents," he added. "We played against them just before the Asian Cup in Jordan and we drew 2-2. But we have a good team and I think we can do well in this championship."