AFC Asian Cup: Jordan coach Borkelmans, Shafi gear up for special game against Vietnam
Jordan's goalkeeper Amer Shafi clears the ball as he is closed down by Palestine's Tamer Seyam.
Dubai - The two teams previously met in the qualifiers
By James Jose
Published: Sat 19 Jan 2019, 9:13 PM
Last updated: Sat 19 Jan 2019, 11:21 PM
Jordan coach Vital Borkelmans and captain Amer Shafi termed their AFC Asian Cup round of 16 fixture against Vietnam as special and added that they could come up with a performance to match that.
Jordan square off against Vietnam at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Sunday, hoping to equal their showing in 2004 and 2011.
Jordan had reached the quarterfinal on debut in China in 2004 and then repeated that feat in 2011 in Qatar.
And they have a good chance to do just that after cruising through the group stages.
Borkelmans' men stunned defending champions Australia by a solitary goal before coming up with a 2-0 win over Syria to qualify for the round of with a match to spare.
Jordan returned with a goalless stalemate in their final Group B fixture against Palestine.
"For me, the team and the country, it is a game that is special," Borkelmans said in his pre-match press briefing at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Saturday.
"We have prepared well and we respect Vietnam who have also made it to the next round. It is a knockout situation now. Vietnam are a strong team, fast paced. But my players are ready. I believe in my players and I hope we get a good result tomorrow (Sunday)," he added.
Jordan previously met Vietnam in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers but the Belgian said that was now a thing of the past.
"We met them earlier (in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers). But that is history and it is a new game. Vietnam has obviously improved since then. For me, my players should show happiness on the field," said Borkelmans, who was the Belgium assistant coach to Marc Wilmots from 2012 to 2016.
Borkelmans was incredibly happy with how his players did in the group stages.
"Nobody believed in us. I told my players before the tournament that we are alone and we will have to do it alone. And the players did it on the pitch during the three matches. They are good guys and I hope it is a very big game," he said.
"It is an important game against Vietnam. I don't look back or look ahead. I know how Vietnam play. But I believe in my players and their skills. We know we can go further or go home and we will go out there and give it our all," added the 55-year-old.
Meanwhile, Shafi hoped to give the Jordan fans more joy.
"We would like to please our Jordan fans. It will be a tough game but we hope to show a very special performance," said Shafi, who is also the goalkeeper and has the most appearances - 142 - for his country.
Shafi also credited Borkelmans for their improvement as a team.
"The team has developed under him. He had made a significant contribution and the evidence is that we have made it to the round of 16. We are determined to win for him," said the 36-year-old, who was part of the team in 2004.