Jordan aim to give heavyweights a run for their money in UAE
Jordan's goalkeeper Amer Shafi (right) tried make a save against Australia in their 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier in Sydney.
Abu Dhabi - The "Whale" has been a formidable force in the goal for Jordan for over 16 years
Jordan captain Amer Shafi is hoping his country gets lucky at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and shed their status as perennial underachievers at the Continental level, according to a report on the AFC official website.
The "Whale" has been a formidable force in the goal for Jordan for over 16 years, having made his debut in a friendly against Kenya in 2002 and since then going on to feature in close to 150 matches for the national team.
The UAE edition of the AFC Asian Cup will be his and his country's fourth appearance at the Continental showpiece, a fact that makes him particularly proud.
"I feel very happy and proud to be part of the Asian Cup. Hope we get lucky this time. It's my fourth time to be part of the Asian Cup, so this means a lot to me," Shafi told the-AFC.com.
"Our ambitions are big in the Asian Cup and we hope to reach the knockout stage. We believe in the players and their performance.
"We are very confident in ourselves, our coach (Vital Borkelmans, pictured below) and our technical staff."
Jordan had been late in catching up with the other West Asian countries as far as football is concerned, qualifying for their first Asian Cup only in 2004.
But they won plenty of accolades by reaching the quarterfinals where they held Japan to a 1-1 draw in regulation time only to go out 4-3 on penalties. In the group stage, they had held South Korea to a goalless draw.
The best and worst moments of his long career are associated with the 2004 AFC Asian Cup.
"When we qualified for the tournament for the first time, it was the greatest moment as a football player. However, when we lost to Japan in the quarterfinals on penalties, it was the worst day of my career," added Shafi.
Jordan next qualified for the 2011 tournament, where they again created a flutter by holding Japan 1-1 and beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 and Syria 2-1 to reach the last eight. However, a 2-1 defeat by Uzbekistan ended their campaign.
Jordan couldn't make much of an impression in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, failing to go beyond the group stage after defeats against Iraq and Japan
In the UAE, they will first clash with defending champions Australia on January 6 and Shafi is looking forward to that encounter with relish. "Australia is a very strong team. We have played against them before. We will play our best in the match and hope we get the result we want," said Shafi.
Shafi's optimism is not misplaced. Jordan and Australia have clashed four times before in Fifa World Cup qualification, with each winning two.
The 36-year-old realises the impact he has on his younger teammates and says he always strives to be a role model for them.
"I have a strong relationship with my teammates, even though some of them are 10 or 15 years younger to me. They respect and appreciate me and I always want to represent them in a positive way. I will always be stand by them and be of great support to them. I am sure they will perform amazingly in the tournament."