Jordanian Football took a couple of very important steps across the last decade. Steps that made them more recognizable on the world football scene in terms of their national team. Its experience was valuable and became one of the more prominent beacons of Arab football in contemporary history. Trailblazing that Jordanians were most certainly proud of.
But has Jordanian Football preserved its blaze and splendor or did it clearly deteriorate? This is the truth and the talk of its downfall is not new. It has actually been the case for two seasons now, it’s just happening behind the scenes and met with absolute silence despite the regression being crystal clear; as clear as the sun in the sky.
Many have attributed Jordan’s failure to improve to the improvement in other nations’ footballing scenery, namely Japan, South Korea, Australia, Iran, Uzbekistan and the GCC nations too. Many have also claimed that Jordan lack financial support and the ideal infrastructure, but at the same time Iraq and Syria have qualified to the final round of the World Cup Qualifiers. Iraq and Syria, both of whom are not allowed to play at home, both of whom struggle to bring all players together at once and both of whom have semi-professional leagues in the midst of precarious security measures.
Jordanian writer Atef Al-Bazour says, “how dare we try compare ourselves to the bigger nations? We can barely keep up with nations that are not safe to play between their own people, and neither can we boast being better than countries like Bahrain and Lebanon who have been struggling recently. Despite the fact that we have clearly failed, we still show off.”
Jordan defeated Australia at home 2-1 in the latest World Cup Qualifiers, when everyone thought they had really been progressing to the final round albeit a recent draw to Kyrgyzstan. Paul Put’s men were flying high until a match-fixing scandal emerged and in turn forced Put’s reign down the drain. Jordan had lost to Kyrgyzstan after that – losing 5 points from a possible 6 to a weaker team in the process – before appointing Harry Redknapp a couple of weeks prior to the final games.
Redknapp’s tenure started with an 8-0 thrashing of Bangladesh, although Australia made sure that Jordan were no threat and sent them back to Amman eliminated – a 5-1 drubbing in Sydney.
Moving onto the clubs’ point of view, especially Wehdat and Al-Faisaly who we know to be the representatives of Jordanian Football almost everywhere. Wehdat had progressed thanks to the work of other teams, while Al-Faisaly at least did a good job against a mid-table Lebanese side who had struggled this season (Tripoli) and a winless Istiklol.
In terms of league football itself, well, let’s not talk about that… “a weak league that does not produce strong clubs or a decent national team”, according to Al-Bazour. In what was the league of “weirdness and bizarreness”, both Wehdat and Al-Faisaly – who finished first and second respectively – had not won ONCE in their last 5 games. Yet, Wehdat ended up as league winners! Even more bizarrely, when Al-Ahli had finally caught up to the duo and had the chance to win the league themselves, they famously “bottled” it and lost to Shabab Ordon. Al-Ahli fans’ hearts were shattered when they learned that both Wehdat and Al-Faisaly had lost the following day.
All of these facts prove that, without a doubt, Jordanian football has regressed. This comes in a period where sports as a whole has deteriorated, and that is another fact being denied recently. This leads to a question that not many would like to ask, who is responsible for this? Will the regression continue until Jordanian Football completely collapses? Or will it be a minor setback before we witness the return of Jordanian Football?