Uruguay players during a training session ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Jordan, November 12
Uruguay players during a training session ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Jordan, November 12
Uruguay players during a training session ahead of their World Cup qualifier against Jordan, November 12

Jordan will be dreaming of making their first ever World Cup when they take on Uruguay in the first leg of the World Cup qualifying playoff on Wednesday.

The Asian country were one of the surprise packages in Asian qualifying and shocked quite a few with tremendous wins over Japan and Australia.

However those major wins were offset by some poor defeats, as their inexperience came to the fore, which in turn led them having to navigate their way past Uzbekistan in an Asian playoff.

Jordan just about managed to find a way through, via an epic penalty shootout, and their reward is a chance to book their place in Brazil by topping Uruguay over two legs.

Hossam Hassan, Jordan coach, has urged his team to go into the Uruguay game without any fear, and with full confidence that they are capable of defeating the South American giants, who reached the semifinals of the last edition of the World Cup.

"I don't even fear Brazil," said Hassan, a former Egypt striker. "Those who aspire to the World Cup should be strong enough and do their utmost.

"We have a group of players that I trust. I urge them to seize this historic moment, do their best, act confidently and never give up. I have learned from my experience that nothing is impossible in football."

If you look at the names, on paper, it does look like a ladder too tall to climb for Jordan, with Uruguay boasting of a lethal striker partnership of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, and several European-based players who have been there and done it all.

If Suarez and Cavani, who will also be supported by the experienced Diego Forlan, fire then there will be little that Jordan can do - because, after all, these are strikers capable of mauling any defence in the world on their day.

A one-legged playoff might have given Jordan a chance, but with the tie set to be over two legs, with the second back in Uruguay, the balance is firmly tilted in the South American side's favour.

Suarez, though, warned his teammates about taking a victory for granted, especially in the first leg in Jordan's backyard in Amman.

"Jordan will be very motivated to play us, just as teams are when they meet us in the World Cup and the Copa America," Suarez said. "We have to be careful. We know Jordan have fast outfield players and if you leave space, they could show their quality."

Uruguay have plenty of experience of finding a way into the World Cup via the playoffs, having been here on three previous occasions. They qualified for the showpiece tournament through this route in 2002 and 2010, beating Australia and Costa Rica respectively, but did fall at the last hurdle in 2006, going down to the Socceroos.

That 2006 result will be the hope that Jordan will cling on to as they target a monumental upset.

Key men: Jordan: The home side will look to Ahmad Hayel Ibrahim for goals, after the forward finished as the second highest scorer in Asian qualifying with seven goals from 18 games.

Uruguay: The Suarez-Cavani combination netted 18 goals in the qualifying campaign, and the deadly duo will be expected to add a few more to their tally.

Where to watch

The game is scheduled for an 8.30 pm IST start with live coverage on Star Sports 4.

Expected lineups: Jordan: Shafi; Fathi, Ali, Hashhash, Yaseen; Zahran, Deeb, Baniyateah, Sahim; Saifi, Ibrahim.

Uruguay: Muslera; Fucile, Godin, Lugano, Pereira; Perez, Rodriguez, Arevalo; Suarez, Cavani, Forlan.

Prediction: 2-0 to Uruguay

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