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2023 AFC Asian Cup: Jordan vs. South Korea Semifinal Preview

With a place in the final up for grabs, South Korea take on Jordan this Tuesday in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup semifinal. It's been quite the journey for Jordan but the Taeguk Warriors are the favourites to progress.
(Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Overview & Match Information

Fixture: Jordan vs. South Korea
Competition: 2023 AFC Asian Cup, Semifinal
VenueAhmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayann
Date: Tue. 6th February, 18:00 (Wed. 7th February, 00:00 midnight KST)

A rematch from the 2-2 draw in Group E sees South Korea lock horns with Jordan this Tuesday with a place in the final up grabs. Both played on Friday night in the quarters and so both have the same number of rest days. Jordan have never made it this far before while Korea are looking to win the competition for the first time in 64 years.

According to Opta, Korea are the favourites to reach the final with a likelihood of 68.35. Jurgen Klinsmann's men are also the favourites to win the tournament at 32.9%, just one percent more than Iran. Opta gives Jordan an 8.3% chance of winning the AFC Asian Cup but a 31.7% chance of beating Korea. 

Last Time Out

Australia 1-2 (AET) South Korea

South Korea left it late again, finding an injury-time equaliser to force extra time against Australia on Friday night. Hwang Hee-chan's penalty, converted after Son Heung-min was fouled, forced extra time. Roles reversed for the winner with Hwang fouled and Son scoring a free kick towards the end of the first half of extra time. 


Highlights




Tajikistan 0-1 Jordan

Jordan squeaked through to the final thanks to an own goal from Tajikistan's Vahdat Hanonov on 66 minutes. It was the team's first cleansheet since their Group E opener, the 4-0 win over Malaysia, and the second win in a row, marking the first time Ammouta recorded back-to-back wins as manager.

Team News

South Korea will be without Kim Min-jae through suspension as the Bayern Munich centre back picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the win over Australia. Jurgen Klinsmann may have to think about how he will approach the game formation-wise with a back three an option; Park Jin-seop could line up alongside Kim Young-gwon and Jung Seung-hyun. Klinsmann has hinted at that possibility but admits that it's something he has to think about.


Jordan will be sweating over the fitness of winger Mousa Al-Tamari. The Montepellier star was rested against Bahrain but has otherwise been ever-present. The 26-year-old has been deployed from the right flank and scored two in the first Group Stage game against Malaysia. Ali Olwan and Hamza Al-Dardour are both suspended and Mohammad Abu Zraiq is a doubt through injury.

Head-to-Head

The 2-2 draw in Group E just a couple of weeks ago was manic with South Korea seemingly in control after a ninth-minute Son Heung-min penalty. However, Korea lost all control and composure in the build-up to half-time; a Park Yong-woo own goal on 37 minutes was followed by a Yazan Al Naimat goal six minutes into time added on. Korea eventually regained composure in the second half and began to find a rhythm. Hwang In-beom's shot from the edge of the area made its way through, coming off Yazan Al Arab for an own goal, to rescue a point.

Before that, the two teams last met in November 2014 in a friendly with Korea emerging as 1-0 winners; Han Kyo-won got the game's only goal on 34 minutes. It was the first meeting in six years with the previous competitive meeting stretching back to 2008 - a World Cup qualifier in Jordan. A penalty from Park Chu-young earned Korea a 1-0 victory. One particular meeting that will be looked back on fondly by Jordanians is the 2-2 draw between the two nations in May 2008 in qualification for the 2010 World Cup.


The Opposition

Jordan players before the Group E match with South Korea (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Jordan, nicknamed The Chivalrous Ones, are ranked 87th in the world and 13th in Asia. The national team is led by Hussein Ammouta, a former Morocco international midfielder, who has also managed the likes of Al Sadd in Qatar and Wydad AC in his native land. He has been in charge since June 2023 and has now overseen 11 matches, winning three, drawing two, and losing six. All three wins have come in this Asian Cup, the first being the 4-0 demolition of Malaysia.

A total of 16 of the current squad play in the domestic league, the Jordanian Pro League. Midfielder Mousa Al-Tamari of Montpellier is the only Europe-based player. Three players, namely Ibrahim Sadeh (Al-Khor), Ali Olwan (Al-Shamal), and Yazan Al-Naimat (Al-Ahli) ply their trade in Qatar, while Noor Al-Rawabdeh and Fadi Award are on the books of clubs in Malaysia, Selangor and PDRM respectively. 

Striker Hamza Al-Dardour is the most capped player among the current squad with over 120 appearances. He's also Jordan's top scorer among the current crop of players with 35 goals.

Jordan's best achievement at an Asian Cup is reaching the quarterfinals and have now done so on three occasions - 2004, 2011, and 2023. In the last tournament, Jordan reached the Round of 16 but lost to Vietnam on penalties.

Yazan al-Arab celebrates after South Korea conceded an own goal  (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Muhammad A Eliidy of Jordanian Football News on X, formerly known as Twitter, offers his insights:

Reaching the semifinals is an incredible achievement. What's been the key reasons behind this great run?

"Yes, it's an amazing feeling indeed, one of the important keys is the squad we have. Not being arrogant but I believe that in the last two years, we have been privileged with great players, especially in attack in midfield, Musa Al-Tamari, Yazan Al-Neamat, Mohammad Abu Zraiq aka Sharara, Ali Olwan, Mahmoud Al-Mardi, Mohannad Abu Taha and a lot of others.

"Not only the first team, but the Jordan U23 team is as strong as the first team, believe me or not. Players like Rizq Bani Hani who was Al-Faisaly's best player in this season's Asian Champions League, Ameen Al-Shanineh, Saif Darwis, Waseem Rayalat, and Hossam Abu Thahab, most if not all of them can easily play in Europe.vSo in terms of the squad, Jordan is not inferior to other Asian teams, but we lacked a proper manager who could get the best out of them and here come Hussien Ammouta who is the star of this miracle."

What's the feeling like in Jordan? How are the fans reacting to the team's performances?

"Jordan fans are over the moon because of this achievement, even the most optimistic didn't imagine Jordan reaching the semifinals; especially the run Jordan was put in after the Group Stage was very hard, but Iraq topping their group changed everything on that perspective, we are now fantasizing about hopefully winning the tournament, saying so, we are deeply saddened because what's happening in Gaza, Sudan, Syria and other Arabic countries so they are also in our minds."

The have been reports about an injury to Mousa Al-Tamari. How would you assess his availability? How much of a blow will his absence be, and who would replace him if he is injured?

"Yes, Mousa Al-Tamari seemed injured after the Tajikistan match, from my pessimistic point of view I don't think he's fit to start, saying so; I believe Hussien Ammouta will start him, with Ali Olwan abd Hamza Al-Dardour both suspended and Mohammad Abu Zraiq not being fully fit. He can't afford to start without Al-Tamari and he will take a calculated risk to start him, he did individual training on Sunday and there's no official word about his fitness until now.

"If he doesn't start, we can play with Mahmoud Al-Mardi instead of Olwan, and Youssef Abu Galboush aka "Sisa" who started against South Korea in the first match instead of Al-Tamari, but he's originally a midfielder, not an attacker. Anas Al-Awadat is another option to replace him, he played in all matches except Iraq, a very hard-working player but inferior to Al-Tamari in terms of talent.

Korea and Jordan have met already so the two teams will be familiar with each other. Can we expect any tactical surprises? The manager has spoken about the counterattacking style, will he stick with that?

"Yes, they met already but in different circumstances; now Jordan are without three, possibly four of their best players, the match is a semifinal and needs fewer risks than a group stage match. Hussien Ammouta will surely prepare himself to play into South Korea's weakness and to adapt with Jordan's absences, nobody knows how exactly he will approach the match but, surely, he will be prepared."

Who would be your player to watch for Jordan in this game?

"Yazan Al-Neamat is definitely the player to watch, he's the best Jordanian striker. He's a beast. He started with his local club Sahab in his first season with them in the Pro League after promotion he was the Jordanian Pro League's second-top scorer. He had the ability to start for the full national team but he waited for the injury of Baha'a Faidal - our striker back then - to prove himself and became our first striker.

"In the Arab Cup, he had a marvelous tournament and scored a superb goal against Egypt, earning him a move to Qatari Club Al-Ahli despite Belgium Royal Antwerp's interest, he's scoring goals for fun there and deserves to play in a European league."

What to Watch

Korea's never-say-die attitude & Jordan's counterattack

In five matches played, Korea have scored four goals in second-half injury time, three from losing positions. The strength of character and determination has gotten Korea through to the semifinals after a less-than-smooth tournament so far. This team has shown that it can respond to crises and setbacks and will be feeling confident and refreshed after the Australia win and the relatively extended break afterward. Klinsmann has options off the bench to change the game if things aren't going to plan, too, so expect mid-second-half subs should there be any need for tactical tweaks.

Jordan, meanwhile, will look to absorb pressure and hit Korea on the counterattack. Manager Hussein Ammouta described the counter as his team's system and recently praised his team's mentality, calling his players "well-disciplined and positive."

As reported by the AFC, Ammouta placed emphasis on the team's togetherness: “Overall, there were times when we had to cope with the pressure of the opponents, and everyone worked together to defend as a unit. I am happy that we were able to score from a set piece, which adds to the variety of ways we are able to create chances."

With several key names unavailable, Jordan will have to stay as disciplined as possible and make sure they strike at the right time and hit Korea on the counter.

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