Uruguay’s star-studded lineup all but buried Jordan’s hopes of reaching their first ever World Cup in the opening leg of the AFC-CONMEBOL playoff at Amman International Stadium today.
Taking advantage of gaps left open by a youthful and overzealous Jordanian defence, La Celeste silenced the red and white faithful with five goals spread between as many players, including Edinson Cavani’s curling and dipping free kick in the dying breaths of stoppage time.
Despite this, the opening minutes of the match provided much hope for Al Nashama, as Hossam Hassan’s side employed relentless pressure to neutralise Uruguay’s potent Suarez-Cavani strike tandem.
The tactic paid dividends early om, with the Jordanians enjoying long spells of possession and launching a series of forays into their opponents’ half as right back Oday Zahran’s overlapping runs provided the impetus for attacks carried out by Ahmad Hayel and Adnan Adous.
But a combination of stout defending inside the penalty area and safe hands from Uruguayan keeper Martin Silva snuffed out the opportunities, providing La Celeste much-needed breathing room.
Uruguay’s short passing game was a textbook example of possession tactics wearing down an opponent bent upon applying high pressure. The hosts were forced to chase a series of well-placed passes to no avail.
As Jordan began to flag close to 20 minutes through the first half, the South Americans capitalised on the first of many chances, with a defensive miscue during a counter-attack leading to Maxi Pereira slotting home a loose ball inside the area.
With the exception of Zahran’s incisive movements and solid man marking along the right flank, Jordan’s defence failed to distinguish itself for the rest of the match, allowing Christian Stuani to score shortly before the half.
The absence of stalwart Amir Shafi between the sticks through suspension undoubtedly played a role in Al Nashama’s defeat, as miscommunication and rash decision-making from stand-in Mohammad Shatnawi left Uruguay with an open net more than once. The Jordan defence once again failed to mark runners on the back post; a fatal mistake against a fluid and opportunistic attack.
While Jordan’s run in World Cup Qualifying bolstered national hopes and expectations of competing on the greatest stage, it was apparent today that the nation remains outgunned and outclassed. And despite Al Nashama’s spirited attempts to the contrary, barring a six or more goal defeat in their friendly confines, Uruguay’s ticket to Brazil is all but punched, leaving them to claim the final seeded position in FIFA’s World Cup 2014 group draw.