Jordan coach: ‘Morocco can be the dark horse of World Cup 2022’
Jordan’s coach Adnan Hamad talks to Al Jazeera about how well he believes the Arab teams will do at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Jordan’s football team failed to qualify for the World Cup 2022 that takes place in the Middle East for first time but the team’s manager is still excited to watch the tournament from the stands.
Adnan Hamad, hailing from Iraq, failed to lead his team to the World Cup after being eliminated by Australia in the second round of qualifiers.
The 61-year-old was first called up to the Iraq national team as a player in the 1984 Gulf Cup. From 2009 to 2013, he coached Jordan’s national team and led them to the 2011 Asian Cup quarter-finals and the playoff round of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Here, he talks to Al Jazeera about Jordan’s team failing to make the World Cup and gives his predictions on how the Arab teams will perform:
Al Jazeera: What went wrong in Jordan’s qualification process and what are the team’s hopes for World Cup 2026?
Hamad: The team missed a great opportunity, especially given its performance now compared to last year. However, it is about the ongoing good level of play and positive results. We aim to do better after moving up the rankings and achieving positive results against major teams, and gaining a good set of players. This gives us a major motivation to succeed in the future.
Our ambition and goals are clear: Qualify for the World Cup 2026.
This ambition requires work and we are holding continuous meetings and putting together a good plan. But what is important is applying that plan. Everyone must come together and cooperate to reach the goal of qualification.
Al Jazeera: Four Arab teams – Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Morocco – are in this year’s World Cup. How well do you think they will do?
Hamad: First of all, the Qatari team is different than what it was. We are talking about a team that is now Asian champions, and they earned this title. We are talking about a team that has developed greatly and a generation of players that have accomplished great things for Qatari football.
Their ambitions will be big especially based on what we have already seen from their participation in Copa America 2019 and European qualifiers for the World Cup. All this shows that Qatar is capable of a great performance. Qatar’s team has a real opportunity to qualify for the World Cup playoffs.
The Saudi team can also put on a good show, especially with this being its sixth appearance in the World Cup.
Today, Saudi football is clearly well developed, and the team has shown high technical levels in the qualifiers. It has players of high calibre and the local competition strength at league levels is also high, which reflects in the team.
Tunisia is one of the strongest African teams. It has many professional players from major European leagues, which is why there will be high aims for success, especially since they will have great support in the crowd.
The Moroccan team is considered the best Arab team playing in the Qatar World Cup. It has 20 professional players from major European leagues. In the qualifiers, it passed with flying colours and has a major chance of progressing from the group.
I believe that the Moroccan team has the best set of players, and the opportunity is in their hands to be the dark horse of the tournament.
Al Jazeera: Iraq has only participated once in a World Cup. What are your thoughts on their struggles to make the tournament?
Hamad: It is strange for Iraqi football that, despite its rich history and major abilities, it has not qualified for more world cups. I was one of the players in World Cup 1986. We faced major teams in a difficult group. We lost three matches but the losses were not major: We lost by one goal in each match.
At that time, we struggled through a change of coaches, and there wasn’t much interest in the local competitions.
These reasons were enough to not achieve any wins in that tournament. I also believe that the participation was not positive enough, but the team had largely untapped talents.
This story was first published here on aljazeera.net.
The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.