Al Ain: Jordan coach Vital Borkelmans could barely suppress his delight as he celebrated his team’s progress to the knockout rounds of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 on Thursday, with the Belgian claiming happiness has been key to his squad’s impressive performances so far.
Borkelmans’ team secured a 2-0 win over Syria in Al Ain that guaranteed the Jordanians a top two finish in Group B, having already opened their 2019 campaign with an impressive 1-0 win over defending champions Australia.
Those results mean Jordan will finish no lower than second in the group no matter what happens in the remaining matches and the country will advance to the knockout rounds of the AFC Asian Cup for the third time since making their debut at the competition in 2004.
“I think that the players have made a lot of good things for Jordan, also the country needs this and also for the competition they must go up and they must work on the level they are now in the league,” said Borkelmans of the impact the outcome will have on football in Jordan.
“The players make good things on the field and you can see they have pleasure on the field and that is very important for me. You can see this on the field and, as a coach, you work on this level, that they have fun and play with pleasure. They are mentally and physically so strong also. But now we will see what happens.”
Group B Matchday 2: Jordan vs Syria
A draw in their final game against Palestine on Tuesday will secure pole position in the group for the Jordanians, who took the lead against Syria in the 26th minute when Mousa Suleiman Al Tamari scored with an instinctive finish following Yousef Rawshdeh’s driven pass.
Two minutes before the break Tareq Khattab added a second as Jordan scored from a set-play at a corner for the second game in a row and Borkelmans felt his team could have added to their tally.
“I always go for chances and always for goals and we scored today two times and maybe we could have had one or two more,” he said.
“Before I said to my players when they lose in our preparations: ‘Guys, you make a lot of chances and the goals are coming.’ And the goals are there and for the next match also.”
After such a strong start to the campaign, Borkelmans feels the Jordanian fans must have more confidence in their team, both for the AFC Asian Cup and for what lies in the months and years beyond.
“The media and the Jordanian people have a good team and in the future we will see what is happening,” he said. “It’s not only the Asian Cup, we must be working for 2022 and the young players are coming. This is very important for a country like Jordan.”