Coach hopes Asian Cup will be a pathway to the Premier League for 'heroic' Jordanian players

Ammouta confident that the landmark achievement of reaching the semifinals can spark something longer lasting for football in the country

By AFP

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Jordan's Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta gives instructions during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup semifinal against South Korea.  - AFP
Jordan's Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta gives instructions during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup semifinal against South Korea. - AFP

Published: Wed 7 Feb 2024, 7:10 PM

Jordan coach Hussein Ammouta hopes their surprise run to the Asian Cup final will spark broader development in the country's football and propel Jordanian players into the Premier League.

Jordan's Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta speaks to his players during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup quarter-final football match between Tajikistan and Jordan at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on February 2, 2024.  (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)
Jordan's Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta speaks to his players during the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup quarter-final football match between Tajikistan and Jordan at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, west of Doha on February 2, 2024. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

Second-half goals from the impressive attacking duo of Yazan al-Naimat and Mousa al-Tamari sent Jordan into the final for the first time with a 2-0 win over South Korea.

South Korea's coach Jurgen Klinsmann and skipper Son Heung-min admitted that Jordan, the lowest-ranked team left in the tournament, fully deserved their semi-final victory on Tuesday.

"The players delivered a heroic performance," the Moroccan Ammouta said after taking Jordan into the final for the first time at their fifth Asian Cup.

They will face either Iran or the hosts and reigning champions Qatar.

No matter what happens on Saturday, the widely admired Ammouta says their landmark achievement must be the spark for something longer lasting in Jordanian football.

"We need to invest in infrastructure, in the training and formation of our players to reach higher levels," he said.

"We need to pay attention to age categories."

Ammouta says that change is already afoot, citing the example of the impressive Tamari, who together with Naimat terrorised South Korea's shell-shocked defence.

Tamari, who set Naimat up for the opening goal on 53 minutes before slicing through the Korean defence for a second 13 minutes later, left Jordan's domestic league in 2018.

First came a move to Cypriot giants APOEL, before leaving for Belgian football two years later with Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

Last summer, after 10 goals and nine assists for the top-flight Belgian side, Tamari sealed a free transfer to Montpellier in France.

Tamari is the only member of Jordan's Asian Cup squad playing in Europe and Ammouta says for the national side to build on their success in Qatar more need to follow in his footsteps.

"What you saw today was the fruit of several years of work," Ammouta said after the South Korea triumph.

"We have Mousa al-Tamari in the French league and hopefully we will have four or five Jordanian players in the French league or the English Premier League.

"When you look at Japan or Korea you see players who are playing abroad and they have great value to their national teams.

"This is what we should start planning for -- how will we produce players who will play in the world's biggest leagues?

"This a building block that's part of a bigger plan."

First, Jordan must upset the odds once again in the final in Doha.

Ranked 87 in the world by FIFA, they will be the underdogs no matter if they face Qatar or Iran.

Tamari afterwards attempted to deflect from his own man-of-the-match performance against South Korea.

"This victory started with the fans, not us," said Tamari, who was seated at the post-match press conference with Ammouta.

"This man told us to have fun -- yes, it was a semi-final. He instilled in us a winning culture.We want to dedicate this victory to the people of Morocco and the coach."

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