Al Saify downplays Jordan's favourites tag

Amman: Jordan captain Odai Al Saify has dismissed suggestions his side face an easy passage to the Finals of the AFC Asian Cup as his country lead Group C at the halfway point of qualifying for the 2019 Finals in the United Arab Emirates.

Al Saify was on target on Tuesday when Jordan handed Afghanistan a 4-1 defeat as Abdullah Mesfer’s team maintained their unbeaten start to their attempt to book their place at the AFC Asian Cup finals for the third tournament in a row.

“Everyone thinks that it is an easy group but in football there are no weak teams,” said Al Saify. “We went into the match with the aim to get the three points, which was the most important thing for us.

“The three points put us on top of the group. Our players put on a good performance and they put in a lot of effort. Despite the conditions and the fact we only had a short to prepare, we still managed to get a good result.”

Jordan had a three-goal lead by the halftime break with Saeed Murjan opening the scoring before further goals from Al Saify and Yaseen Al Bakhit put the home side in control. 

Zubayr Amiri pulled one back from the penalty spot for Afghanistan in the 73rd minute, but Hamzah Al Dardour netted in the final minute to ensure Jordan won by an emphatic margin.

Jordan are now on seven points, two points more than a Vietnam side that handed Cambodia a 2-1 defeat with Nguyen Quang Hai scoring the winner with just nine minutes remaining.

“I just started with the team however I am happy with our performance today and I know there’s more to come from them,” said Mai Duc Chung, who took over as head coach just days before the game. 

“I have to thank my players for overcoming difficulties that come with playing away from home and against a side like Cambodia.”

The Cambodians, meanwhile, are in third place with three points – picked up in a 1-0 win over Afghanistan on Matchday Two – but Leonardo Vitorino’s side retain their hopes of a first-ever Asian Cup appearance with three qualifying games to go.

“We played to win the match and while we had chances, we just didn’t take them,” said the Brazilian. “This is my job and I had to do something, so I tried by adding new players in the second half. But Vietnam took their chances while we did not.

“Our speed, efficiency and attitude is better than before. In my opinion, we played a good match but the problem is our concentration in possession.”

Afghanistan prop up the group with having picked up only one point from three games to date.

Photos: AFC, Football Federation of Cambodia

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