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FIFA World Cup Play-Off Preview: Jordan v Uruguay

Jordan host Uruguay in the opening leg of their Intercontinental Play-off looking to reach the FIFA World Cup Finals for the first time.

The Middle-Eastern state are on the brink of making history but head into Wednesday’s encounter as underdogs against a team that reached the semi-finals of the 2010 tournament.

Hossam Hassan’s men won a penalty shoot-out in September’s Asian Football Confederation (AFC) play-off with Uzbekistan after finishing third in the fourth round of AFC qualifying.

Uruguay struggled for much of their qualifying campaign, but Hassan will know that the South Americans represent a step up from the calibre of opposition his side are used to facing.

Jordan will need to improve defensively if they are to halt a talented Uruguay attack, having conceded 16 goals in the final AFC group stage.

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.

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.

“If Jordan gives everything it’s got in its status as home team, it will make it hard for us, and I’m not being pessimistic or cautious,” he said.

“They don’t have any elite football players, but to make a match tough, that’s not necessary.”

Mon 11 November, 2013
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