JORDAN VS URUGUAY (1ST LEG)
Referee: Svein Oddvar MOEN (NOR)
The question is, can Oscar Tabarez’s men get comfortably past their hosts who are looking to qualify for the mundial for the first time tonight in Amman?
The hosts qualified for this contest having bested Uzbekistan in the Asian play-off, though they do lack world class players, they have proven extremely tough to beat at home and have gone five matches during the final phase of qualifying and the AFC playoff to get into the intercontinental playoff without losing.
Naturally, heading into a clash with a team ranked over 60 places above them in theFIFA World Rankings, Jordan will be tempted to play reactively, that is to set up defensively, to remain resolute and attempt to catch Uruguay on the break. At the other end of the pitch, striker Ahmad Hayel Ibrahim carries the hosts’ most potent threat as he looks to add to his tally of seven goals during Jordan’s journey towards Brazil.
Jordan will be without two of their biggest attacking fixtures during this playoff. Veteran playmaker Amer Deeb and joint-leading scorer Hassan Abdel-Fattah were both left off the squad. Experienced goalkeeper Amer Shafi also missed out on the squad due to an injury.
Uruguay were without some of their best players due to injuries and suspensions during the last international break, but have a full squad at their disposal for the next two games. Oscar Tabarez’s visitors put on a late surge to secure their place in the play-off, although defeat against Ecuador last month effectively ended their hopes of automatic qualification.
Uruguay’s subsequent 3-2 triumph over Argentina represented a fourth victory in five and ensured Tabarez’s men finished five points clear of sixth-placed Venezuela.
Uruguay may have performed poorly in South American qualifying, but should be confident of taking a healthy advantage into the second leg with strikers Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani both in the squad for the tie at Amman International Stadium. Suarez and Cavani combined for 16 goals in the group stage, but Tabarez is still anticipating a difficult game.
Jordan is expected to file out in a 4-5-1 formation while a 4-4-2 will suit Uruguay’s play as they seek to attack on the night.
This is the fourth time Uruguay have contested the play-offs. La Celeste prevailed against Australia in 2002 and Costa Rica in 2010 but lost out to the Socceroos in 2006.