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We did ourselves proud, says Jordan coach

sports Updated: Jan 22, 2011 13:56 IST

Jordan might be out of the Asian Cup but their Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad says they did the country proud, with the experience boding well as a building block for the future.

The Jordanians were gunning to make their first ever semi-final but Uzbekistan spoiled the party with a hard-fought 2-1 victory on Friday evening.

They went into the break goalless but Jordan came out for the second half asleep.

Ulugbek Bakaev struck 60 seconds after the restart when he beat the offside trap to meet a free-kick from captain Server Djeparov and head past goalkeeper Amer Shafi.

Jordan, in only their second Asian Cup, were caught napping again just minutes later when Bakaev darted in front of a defender to prod the ball home.

To Jordan's credit, they fought back and reduced the deficit with captain Bashar Bani Yaseen bringing the mostly Jordanian crowd to their feet when he pounced on a rebound from close range to make it 2-1 with half an hour to go.

It set up a tense finale and Jordan attacked relentlessly but the Uzbek defence held firm.

Jordan went into the match burdened by a slew of injuries, with Odai Al Saify, Hatem Aqel and Anas Bani Yaseen all ruled out and Basem Fathi suspended after picking up two yellow cards.

Hamad said this played a part in their defeat.

"I am very proud of my team and what they have done in this match," he said.

"We lost focus in the first five minutes of the second half, but we got back into it and were very close to getting a draw.

"I admit fatigue and exhaustion were there and we were missing four key players.

"We covered a lot of ground and we also included some new players, which affected the team, but we missed some chances, largely down to tiredness.

"This impacted our performance but we exit with heads held high and the players have served their country."

They can reflect on a decent tournament, including a famous 1-0 victory over Gulf heavyweights Saudi Arabia, a 2-1 win over Syria and a highly creditable draw with three-time champions Japan in the group stage.

Hamad has a contract until April and said he was keen to continue building on their achivements in Doha as they plot their path to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"The next stage for us is to prepare for qualification for the World Cup," said the Iraqi tactician, who helped turn around Jordan's fortunes in Asian Cup qualifying after he took over from Portuguese Nelo Vingada in April 2009.

"I have full confidence in my team. My contract expires in April but I'm very happy working with Jordan and the players that have served their country well.

"This team has a good future and there is now more experience."