Thu, 28 Oct, 2021
Melbourne: The weight of responsibility to maintain Jordan’s 100 per cent record of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup is a driving force for forward Odai Al Saify ahead of Friday’s crucial meeting with neighbours Palestine in Group D.
Jordan have only appeared at the AFC Asian Cup twice before prior to this year’s tournament in Australia, but on both occasions in 2004 and 2011 the team from the Hashemite Kingdom have progressed beyond the group stage.
But after Monday’s 1-0 defeat by 2007 champions Iraq threw the chances of making it a hat-trick of quarter-final appearances in doubt, Ray Wilkins’ Jordan must claim a positive result against tournament debutants Palestine at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium to remain in the qualification picture ahead of next week’s meeting with defending champions Japan.
“It is the third time that we have played at the AFC Asian Cup, we always qualify to the quarter-finals, and before the tournament started we had expectations of going further than we had before,” said Al Saify, who featured in all three group stage games in 2011 before Jordan lost in the quarter-finals to Uzbekistan in Qatar.
“But now there is pressure and hopefully it will turn into a positive affect and we will beat Palestine for the three points and go further against Japan and we will make it to the quarter-finals for the third time.”
Al Saify played the full 90 minutes against Iraq in Brisbane earlier this week as Yaser Kasim’s 77th minute strike secured a hard-fought victory for the 2007 champions, who face Japan at Brisbane Stadium also on Friday.
“The last game is done, we have learned from the negatives and will turn these negatives into positives, and hopefully we will score and win,” added Al Saify.
“All the players feel like it is a big game for us. This three points is very important for us as we need to go to the second stage, and I hope all the players give their best in this game and take the three points.”
“There are a lot of professional Palestinian players that play in the Jordanian league so all the Jordanian players have a good relationship and even friendship with some of the Palestinian players, but there is no friendship when you are on the pitch,” said Al Saify.
“It is a battle, but when the battle is done after the game the friendship is still there. All the players play for the Jordan badge on their chest and we will try to win this game.”