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Asian Cup Qualifiers: Jordan is still our nemesis after 3-1 win

Amri has his work cut out by the Jordanians 
During the pre-match press conference ahead of last evening's Asian Cup qualifiers against Jordan, National coach Bernd Stange made the following statement.

Said the 65-year-old tactician:“If we can play well against Jordan and Oman, then we can choose better teams to play friendly matches on FIFA dates. If not, we may have to stay a little longer to compete at the Southeast Asian level..."

The first thing that came to my mind was "we have already hit the pinnacle in South East Asia and why should we justify ourselves before we can take on better opponents outside the region?".

While the Jordanians may not have sent in their strongest squad this time round, the Lions weren't at their ideal state to take on the team that improved tremendously since they beat them in 2009 at Kallang (ironically, the same tournament qualifiers).

A look at the starting lineup reaffirmed Stange's plan to laden with a number of those LionsXII players involved in last weekend's Malaysia FA Cup that barely assembled two days ago for the centralized training for this match.

Exchange of words after Jordan scored the first goal
Tempers flared with sending off Baihakki (extreme right)
Nonetheless, the former Belarus national coach's insistence on playing attacking football using a squad of fatigued players in order to entertain the fans backfired with a 3-1 loss to the West Asians.

Credit to the Lions, who did well to hold the visitors for much of the first half before the events at the closing stages changed the direction of the game when Jordan took the lead in the 43rd minute amid allegations that a foul was committed on a Singapore player before the goal was scored by Thaer during the process.

The hosts suffered another setback when their defensive lynchpin Baihakki Khaizan was given the marching order for a nudge on a Jordanian player that was deemed a red card offense by the referee near to the stroke of half.

Ahmad Hayel (10) headed home the second goal
Those setbacks, however, did not deter Stange from altering his game plan by throwing in the likes of Gabriel Quak and Faris Ramli in the second half to boost up their upfront which proved little help with skipper Ahmad Hayel up the guests' tally with his 58th minute header from inside the six-yard.

While Khairul Amri's penalty in the 84th minute did give a bit of hope to the Lions but it was not before Youssef Ahmad nailed in the third goal in the dying minutes to book the Hashemite Kingdom's ticket to Down Under next year and yet again see themselves as Singapore's nemisis in recent years.

Faris Ramli  (10) was introduced to inject flair in Lions game
Amri's (19) spot kick given some hopes but not for long
Breathing a sign of relief at the post-match press conference was Jordan's Egyptian coach Hossam Hassan.

"It has been a bad, hard situation for us having to play two matches in four days," said the former striker who represented Egypt in the 1990 World Cup via a translator at the media briefing.

"Also, we have to deal with injuries sustained by our players in recent days and also some of our professional players who are not being released by their clubs due to the lengthy FIFA fixtures."

"I would say that we are the only team facing such situation when we are competing in the West Asian Championship, the World Cup Qualifying playoff against Uruguay and now the Asian Cup Qualifiers which I glad we make it." he added.

Jordan coach Hossam Hassan (right) speaks to the media
Although the 176-capped player was upset with some of the yellow card offenses committed by his players for "without any reason" and suggested that penalty awarded to the home team was a "wrong decision".

Meanwhile, Stange rejected the notion that it was a good performance, despite the loss, by the Lions as suggested by a member of the media in his briefing.

"I can't say this is our best game when we lost 3-1, which I think our best game was against Syria (which was won 2-1)," said the German coach.

"Finally, we did everything we can in such a short preparation and paid the price for having not enough experience, not strong, powerful and clever enough."

"We started to control the game and I would be happy to go with a draw at half time but we conceded too many free kicks and we must learn from these mistakes." concluded the ex-Iraqi national coach.



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