Jordanian clubs in the AFC Cup
Kuala Lumpur: It has been more than a decade since a Jordanian side last won the AFC Cup. With Al Jazeera reaching the West Asia Zonal final this year, we look at some memorable moments for Jordanian clubs in the competition.
With an unbeaten run in the AFC Cup this season, Al Jazeera have taken the continent by storm, qualifying to the West Asia Zonal final of the competition for the first time in the club's history.
In the West Asia Zonal semi-final, two goals from one of the tournament's standout performers, Musa Al Taamari, granted Al Jazeera a historic victory against the country's most dominant team Al Faisaly, setting up a date against the reigning champions Air Force Club in the Zonal final.
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Al Faisaly's reign
Jordanian teams only missed out on the first edition of the competition in 2004, but the following three editions saw three finals for the country as Al Faisaly triumphed in two of the three occasions.
Club icon Moayyad Salim was the star man as the Amman-based side cruised past the group stage with the highest scoring front line in the 2005 AFC Cup.
The Sky Blues went all the way, lifting their first ever continental trophy without a defeat as they dispatched Singapore's Tampines Rovers and Maldives' New Radiant en route to the final.
Left-back Khaled Saad excelled in the all-West-Asia final, scoring three goals across the two legs as Al Faisaly defeated Lebanon's Nejmeh 1-0 in Amman and 3-2 in Beirut.
Al Faisaly were not the only Jordanian participants in the 2005 AFC Cup, as surprise package Al Hussein made their first, and to date only, appearance in AFC competitions that year. The Irbid-based side topped their group before exiting in the quarter-finals at the hands of New Radiant.
An all-Amman affair
Following their 2005 triumph, Al Faisaly set out to become the first team to successfully defend their AFC Cup title. After navigating their way to the semi-final via a penalty shoot-out against Hong Kong's Sun Hei, they came across a familiar sight - the road to silverware passed through Amman rivals Al Wehdat.
Margins were narrow but it was Al Faisaly who emerged top in the local derby. A 2-1 aggregate win was enough to carry the Sky Blue half of Amman into the final.
Victory was again narrow as an added time goal from Siraj Al Tall settled the tie between Al Faisaly and Muharraq in the second leg of the final. The Jordanians had watched their 3-0 win in the home first leg give way to a 4-1 defeat in Bahrain, before Al Tall ensured it was back-to-back titles for Al Faisaly.
Jordanian clubs' impressive AFC Cup performances meant the country had three representatives in 2007. The reigning champions were joined by semi-finalists Al Wehdat and a new face to the competition, Shabab Al Ordon.
The hot form continued as the three sides romped to the semi-finals, with only Lebanon's Nejmeh standing in the way of a third consecutive Jordanian AFC Cup title.
Al Faisaly and Al Wehdat locked horns in the semi-final for the second year running, and once more a single goal advantage carried Al Faisaly through to the final.
On the other side, Shabab Al Ordon's impressive debut saw them better Singapore's Armed Forces Club (Now Warriors FC) in the quarter-finals and defeat Nejmeh in the semi-final to ensure the trophy was staying in Amman for the third year in a row.
The tournament's top scorer Odai Al Saify continued his virtuoso displays in the final, bagging the only goal at Amman International stadium gifting Shabab Al Ordon a crucial away win.
And although Al Faisaly scored first in the return leg, Mustafa Shehdeh netted the equaliser to deny Al Faisaly a third successive triumph, handing his team a historic trophy on their debut.
The rise of Al Jazeera
Long gone were the glory years of the mid 2000s, no Jordanian team was able to reach the AFC Cup final since 2007. Semi-final appearances for Al Wedhat in 2011 and Al Faisaly in 2013 were the best results Jordanian teams mustered in the competition for the following decade.
Then came 2018 and with it a resurgence of Jordanian clubs on the continental stage. Mainstays Al Faisaly were this time accompanied in the latter stages by a new name, Al Jazeera. The fellow Amman side had reached the round of 16 in their AFC Cup debut three years ago, but were now ready to go even further.
An unbeaten group stage campaign saw the tournament's dark horses pip reigning champions Air Force Club to the top of Group A, setting up a derby clash with Al Faisaly in the West Asia Zonal semi-finals.
A 1-1 draw in the first leg was followed by a historic 1-0 win in the return fixture as Al Jazeera booked a third date with Air Force Club in the Zonal final, having drawn both group stage fixtures against the Iraqi side 1-1 and 2-2.
Jordan's hopes of bringing the AFC Cup home after a long drought are now resting on the shoulders of Al Jazeera, who hope to make their country the first ever nation to have three different AFC Cup winners.
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