Jordan manager Vital Borkelmans described his team’s qualification for the knockout stages of the 2019 Asian Cup is an “occasion to celebrate” after a 2-0 victory over Syria on Thursday.
Jordan followed up their stunning opening win over defending champions Australia, with another three points against Syria to sit top of Group B. They were twice on target in the first half in front of a packed 10,000-seater Khalifa bin Zayed stadium in Al Ain, and held on to their lead despite Syria dominating possession.
Mousa Suleiman opened the scoring on 26 minutes when he made contact with left foot on a powerfully struck shot from Yousef Rawshdeh from inside the area. Tareq Khattab doubled the lead two minutes before half-time when he headed home a cross from Suleiman.
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“The players made a lot of good things tonight for their country and for their fans to party tonight,” said Borkelmans. “This is normal. It’s an occasion to celebrate.
“For me, it’s so nice to see the players celebrating the achievement after the game. This is important for them to enjoy and take this confidence forward.
“I have a team that can play on any system I want them to play,” Borkelmans added. “They carry out that task so well and they are the ones who can take decisions on the pitch, and so far, they have done all the right things.
“When you have players who can do that, it becomes very easy for me to work on our strategies and game plans.
“Tonight I played two wingers outside and a deeper striker. The second line created a lot of chances and the organisation of the defence was very good, and we deserved to win this three points.
“As a coach I give a lot of confidence to the players and they do it for me and the country.”
Jordan next play Palestine, and despite already being assured of progress to the last-16, Borkelmans insisted it will be back to work to focus on the next game. But first, there will be a chance to revel in their success so far.
“I need to get my players ready for the next game and my next job is to see how many are 100 per cent for the next game and how many need more recovery time. The players know me well,” the Belgian said. “I’ll let them to enjoy tonight’s win and then we have four days before the next game.”
Syria manager Bernd Stange refused to give up hope of reaching the knockout stages. His team remain on one point following the goalless draw from their opening match against Palestine.
“The result obviously is very disappointing but we still have a game to play against Australia and we’ll have to try and win this game,” he said. “Jordan is a strong and confident team after their win over Australia. We started well and dominated for the first 20 minutes.
“We had a winning attitude and then the counter attack shocked us. Then the second goal off a set piece finished the game. My players didn’t give up until the end but we didn’t have any clear chances to make any change.
“We now need to regroup and do everything to get the players confidence back when we play Australia. It’s not mission impossible. This is my job”
Syria meet Australia in a must-win game on Tuesday at the same venue while Jordan play Palestine at the Mohamed bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi on the same day, both at 5.30pm.