Muscat: Jordan coach Islam Al Diabat insisted that third place in the AFC U-22 Championship was a prize worth fighting for ahead of their play-off with Korea Republic at Seeb Sports Complex on Saturday.
The 2013 WAFF runners-up had been undefeated until their semi-final match with Saudi Arabia on Thursday, but they were toppled by Khalid Al Koroni’s side in a 3-1 defeat at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Instead of participating in Sunday’s final against Iraq, Jordan will now have a second meeting with Korea Republic in the third-fourth place play-off. The two sides had previously faced off in their Group A opener at the beginning of the tournament where they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
“I told the players after the semi-final that although we lost the chance to be first or second place in this tournament, we’ve still got a chance to get third place and that would still be a great result,” said coach Al Diabat.
“Although we have played them once already in this competition, we will not change a lot ahead of the game with Korea Republic, as it is only two days after the semi-final.
“However, I will talk to the players and motivate them before the match and remind them that, win or lose, reaching this stage of the tournament has been a fantastic achievement for the team.”
A subplot for this fixture features Hamza Al Daradreh whose four goals in the tournament puts him just one behind current top-scorer Kaveh Razaei of Iran. The Jordan captain will have this final chance against the Koreans to stake a claim on the competition’s golden boot award.
Like their opponents to be faced on Saturday, Lee Kwang-jong’s Korea Republic side were yet to suffer a loss at the AFC U-22 Championship until the semi-final stage, where they were narrowly defeated 1-0 by Iraq via a goal from defender Mustafa Al Shabbani.
However, the Korean team will be boosted by the returns of forward Kim Kyung-jung and midfielder Nam Seung-woo who are once more available for selection after sitting out the semi-final with one-match suspensions.
“We are going to prepare well because we want to try and win third place in this tournament,” said Korea Republic coach Lee.
“I don’t need to give any extra motivation to my players for this final game as they know, like I do, that every match is important, and we want to win and will do our best to do so.
“We have already played Jordan before and I think we know them well by now, having observed their progress through this competition. I have seen all their matches including their semi-final last night, and we will study their team more until tomorrow’s game."
Riyadh: Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic felt that his team paid the price for a fatal loss of concentration in the first leg of their AFC Champions League clash against Al Hilal on Tuesday as they conceded three goals in nine minutes to leave their hopes of reaching the final in tatters.
Seoul: FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo will not be underestimating Western Sydney Wanderers in the first leg of the AFC Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, even if the Australian side denied him the opportunity for revenge.
Riyadh: Nassir Al Shamrani scored two first-half goals as Al Hilal defeated Najran 2-1 in their last domestic fixture before hosting Al Ain in the first leg of their AFC Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday.