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Jordan-Uzbekistan Preview


Jordan coach Adnan Hamad doesn't mind his Uzbek counterpart calling his side lucky, and he's hoping the good fortune continues when the two teams meet in Friday's Asian Cup quarterfinals.

Jordan progressed to the last eight for the second time in two appearances by beating Saudi Arabia 1-0, drawing with Japan and then coming from behind to beat Syria 2-1.

''Jordan is a good team, a dangerous team, a lucky team,'' Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abramov said Thursday. ''I am a little bit afraid because sometimes they have no chance to score but they score, you know? ... It's like somebody's helping them, maybe from upstairs.''

Hamad smiled when told of Abramov's comments, and countered that all teams need luck to succeed in football.

''We hope (Jordan is a lucky team),'' Hamad said. ''We hope it will continue until the end of the tournament. But we can't survive only with luck. It's a very strong tournament and our performance has been very good. Tomorrow we hope we keep hold of that luck.''

Jordan and Uzbekistan may be separated by only one place in the FIFA rankings, but it is Group A winner Uzbekistan which goes into the match as favorite.

Abramov's team comfortably won its first two matches against Qatar and Kuwait before drawing 2-2 with China when it had already all but qualified for the last eight.

Jordan was not expected to emerge from Group B and is one of the few surprise teams in the quarterfinals, but took advantage of a chaotic campaign by three-time winner Saudi Arabia.

''I don't believe Jordan are the last from the eight teams,'' Abramov said. ''You can be lucky once, but not two, three, four times. It's a strong team, and it came out of a strong group.''

Even so, Uzbekistan may never have a better chance of reaching its first Asian Cup semifinal after falling in the quarterfinals on the last two occasions.

While Abramov has no injury or suspension worries, Hamad will be without several players, including striker Oday al-Saify, who scored the winner against Syria but has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury, and suspended defender Basem Fathi.

''This is a very important match for us,'' Abramov said. ''Uzbekistan has been to the quarterfinals twice but never to the semifinals. This is a chance for us to go to semifinal. This team can play. They can do it, I believe this.''

Jordan, though, is hoping fate is with its team. The win over Syria was watched by thousands of Jordan fans in Doha, and greeted by wild celebrations on the streets of the Jordanian capital Ammam.

''Regardless of the absence of some players, I'm very confident,'' Hamad said. ''Our players have good concentration and we are also encouraged by the celebrations in Jordan. This is a very good motivation for our next match.''