On Wednesday, Jordan hosts two-time World Cup winner Uruguay in a two-game intercontinental playoff for a spot at next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. While Oscar Tabarez’s men are huge favorites to progress to next summer’s finals, it is something of a miracle that Jordan even made it this far. “Al Namasha” as the team is affectionately known, sustained a 6-0 hammering by Japan and a 4-0 loss at Australia in Asian qualifying, only to beat both opponents in Amman and then eventually outlast Uzbekistan, 9-8, on penalties to make it to the intercontinental playoff.
According to the Associated Press, King Abdullah II has donated $500,000 toward preparations for the Jordanian national team, while Jordan TV held a one-day telethon that raised $2.8 million. Further support comes from Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Princess Haya of the United Arab Emirates, who have offered a private plane to bring the squad to Uruguay for the return game in Montevideo.
Hossam Hassan, the former Egypt international who took over as Jordan coach before the regional playoff against Uzbekistan, doesn't have a problem with his squad being underdogs against Uruguay. "We've come this far and we're optimistic we can make the Jordanian people's dreams come true and get to the World Cup," he said. "We have done the first part of our job against Uzbekistan in the Asian playoffs and now we are looking to prepare well for Uruguay."