Wednesday 30 October 2019, 19:53

Faisal: Jordan are capable of beating Australia

  • Baha’ Faisal is one of Jordan’s key marksmen

  • Player discusses his country’s World Cup qualifying campaign

  • Scored twice in last three matches and looking to add to that tally

In two weeks’ time, Jordan will face the biggest challenge thus far of their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualification campaign when they host Australia, their main rivals in the race to secure Group B’s automatic qualifying berth for the final group stage.

The Socceroos currently top the section with nine points, with the Al Nashama following closely behind on seven, making a victory for Jordan essential if they are to stand a realistic chance of topping the group.

Though Jordan will not be lacking in determination, their fans know that much will depend on the performance of their three forwards: Musa Al Omari, Yaseen al Bakhit, and Baha’ Faisal. This is especially true of the latter, who plays an important role tactically but knows that his main job is to score goals.

Baha’ Faisal is a rising star in Jordanian football. The 24-year-old honed his craft in recent years both with his Al-Wehdat club and the national U-23 team, of which he was made captain. His skills were very much in evidence domestically last season, when he finished as top scorer in the Jordanian league, a distinction that had gone to foreign players for the four previous seasons.

Hunger for goals

Talking exclusively to after his side had beaten Nepal 3-0 on matchday three of the second qualifying round, Baha said: “Yes, we’re heading toward one of the most important games of these qualifiers. It’s always hard to beat Australia, but in the past we proved that we’re capable of it. And now we want to repeat that feat at this important juncture in the campaign.”

The Jordanian attacker was referring to two major wins Jordan recorded when they hosted the Socceroos in Amman during qualifications for Brazil 2014 (2-1) and Russia 2018 (2-0). Jordan also won a thrilling game against Australia in the first round of the 2019 AFC Cup (1-0), giving them a positive record of three wins from five in their head to heads.

In the first three games of Qatar 2022 qualifying, Jordan scored five times, with Baha’ twice finding the target. He opened the scoring in their 2-1 victory over Chinese Taipei on matchday one then rounded off the scoring in their last outing against Nepal.

“I always do my best to score for Jordan,” he said. “That’s my main mission as a forward and goalscorer. In every game, the desire to score is my overriding objective. It’s what I do.

“I always try to remain highly focused throughout the game time and follow my team-mates’ every move, so I can be in the right position. I also watch the moves of opposition defences to capitalise on their mistakes.”

This is exactly how Baha’ scored his two recent goals. Against Chinese Taipei, he was first to react when a parried shot came back off the post, while against Nepal, he took up a position at the far post and outjumped the defender to double his side’s lead.

Looking ahead

The 24-year old made steady progress within Jordan’s age-category sides teams and played in the last two editions of the AFC U-23 Championship, where his eye-catching displays earned him a call-up to the senior national team for the Russia 2018 qualifiers. Building on that experience, he then featured with the senior team at the 2019 AFC Cup. On the back of top scoring in the Jordanian league last year, he earned a move to Qatari top flight side Al Shamal.

“A player must always seek out new opportunities and playing in the Qatari league was a good opportunity for me to develop my career,” said Baha’ of his new experience.

He added: “I developed as a player at Al-Wehdat. It’s where I made a name for myself in local football, which is why it’s the only club in Jordan I could imagine playing for. But I always look ahead, and I’m planning to continue building my professional career for a long time and gaining more experience, which will certainly be reflected in my performance with the national team.”

Asked about the immediate future and Jordan’s current qualification campaign, Baha said: “We know our fans want to see strong performances. We promise them to do everything we can in the upcoming game against Australia. This fixture will be the most important of our group matches. If we win, we’ll make a statement and move into top spot, so we want the fans to get behind us like they did last month.

“We know our fans wanted us to triumph over Kuwait (on matchday two). I believe we played a good game and were the more dangerous team, threatening to score many times but without any luck. If we overcome Australia, our spirits will be high, and we’ll be in a strong position for the away games against Kuwait and Australia. But those fixtures are many months away, so the circumstances will be different. By then we should be even better prepared, both physically and technically,” he added.

“Yes, our aim is to repeat our 2014 achievement, when we reached the inter-continental playoff against Uruguay. Perhaps we were unlucky on that occasion. We could’ve qualified for the finals before the playoffs if we hadn’t dropped so many vital points in the final group stage. But as you saw from the opening rounds of the current qualifiers, any team can come under pressure and drop points. Let’s focus now on progressing to the final round, and then we can talk about our chances of qualifying for Qatar 2022."

Jordan national team forward Baha'a Faisal