Jordan’s U-23 football held its Iraqi counterpart to a goalless draw in their second friendly at Prince Hamzah Stadium last month in Aqaba. The match marked a milestone as it was the first friendly played in Aqaba for national teams in 25 years.
The Jordan Football Association website noted that the “U-23 team’s two matches were played in Zarqa and Aqaba in efforts to spread the game and allow for the maximum number of fans to attend national team matches”.
The Prince Hamza Stadium had to be rehabilitated in record time to host the official friendly, with officials hoping that a repeat of such matches will help boost the game and engage the local community and boost attendance.
The U-23 team hosted Iraq in the first match in Zarqa with the match ending 1-1 as Jordan’s squad starts their agenda of preparing for qualifiers for the third edition of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship which will be held in 2018.
The national teams is set to play Lebanon on September 21 as they begin a series of training camps and friendlies ahead of the qualifiers will be held next summer and will group 42 nations divided into 10 groups with 16 making it to the finals.
Earlier this year, Jordan was eliminated from the quarter-finals of the 2016 AFC U-23 Championship in Qatar. The Kingdom failed to make it to the top four and a possible Olympic slot with the continents top three advancing to the Olympic Games football tournament in Rio de Janeiro which was won by Brazil.
In the inaugural AFC U-22 Championship in 2014 (now renamed the AFC U-23 Championship), Jordan took third place when they beat South Korea while Iraq won the title after defeating Saudi Arabia.
In 2015, Jordan’s U-23 squad was eliminated from the 1st West Asian Championship and in 2014 the line-up represented Jordan at the Asian Games where they made to the quarter-finals.
by Aline Bannayan