Bernd Stange expects Syria to encounter a derby-like intensity in a crunch Asian Cup clash with Jordan that looks set to shape Group B.
Surprise 1-0 winners over Australia last time out, a well-organised and dangerous Jordan can secure a stranglehold on first with another three points in Al Ain on Thursday.
Syria, though, have plenty to prove after a frustrating 0-0 draw with a 10-man Palestine left Stange’s side with plenty of work to do if they are to secure a top-two spot.
Their hopes of emerging victorious have been hurt by the injury withdrawal of winger Osama Omari, and the resilience of a Jordan team tipped to go deep into the competition will be put to the test as neighbouring nations go head-to-head.
“We are looking forward to a special match,” Stange said in quotes reported by the AFC.
“It’s a derby, because the players know each other for many years. I have two players in my team playing in the Jordan first division and that’s why it will be exciting.
“Nobody knows the way the Jordan team will play. It’s a question we have to answer. They are going for six points to make everything clear.
“We are going to try to win this match, as all teams want to win their matches and the situation in our group has been complicated by the win of Jordan against Australia.
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“That’s why it’s not so easy to continue. We need points and that’s why we will try to do everything.”
Jordan coach Vital Borkelmans, fresh from masterminding the Socceroos’ downfall, says the familiarity between the two squads has aided his planning for another key encounter.
“The players know more about the Syrian players than I do,” Borkelmans said. “They know how they play, where they play.
“Some are playing in Jordan and I talk to my players about this and give them a lot of briefings about what they have to do on the pitch”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jordan – Yousef Rawshdeh
Borkelmans’ men were disciplined and happy to hit Australia on the counter in their Group B opener but may be asked to show more attacking adventure against an opponent of similar reputation. Winger Rawshdeh, who twice tested Mat Ryan last time out, could be provide the forward impetus. He is a rusted-on part of the national team and scored in a friendly win over Cyprus in May.
Syria – Omar Al Soma
Unusually ineffectual against Palestine, Al Soma must step up and alleviate the attacking expectation on Omar Khribin if Syria are to trouble Jordan. Centre-forward Al Soma, 29, is a prolific scorer for Saudi club Al Ahli and, as captain of his country, has the experience, physicality and craftiness to be a real factor in this tournament.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Jordan beat Syria 2-1 in their only previous meeting at the Asian Cup, which was in the group stage of the 2011 edition.
– Jordan are looking to win two successive Asian Cup matches for the first time since 2011, having never previously won their opening two group fixtures at the tournament.
– Syria ended a run of six Asian Cup games without a clean sheet when they drew 0-0 against Palestine. They have not kept two in a row in the competition since the 1988 edition.
– Jordan, who held Australia goalless on Sunday, have not kept consecutive clean sheets at the Asian Cup since their first three group games in 2004.
– Syria are without a win in their last three Asian Cup encounters (D1 L2); they have never gone four successive games without a victory in the competition.