Jordan may rank 60 places beneath Uruguay in the FIFA world rankings , but today will see 11 brave Nashama players take on their 11 celestial counterparts on a level playing field. The two teams are due to come head to head in Amman today as they battle it out in this charged play-off for a place in the World Cup. Will Jordan buckle under the pressure of the hopes of a nation as well as a region, or will these plucky underdogs (survivors of the Arab Spring fever) show their mettle against all the odds?
This is a match that has captured the attention and hopes of Jordanians looking for a victory that could help their nation qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time in history. If Jordan were to move into the World Cup finals, they would be the only Middle Eastern team since Saudi Arabia and Iraq have both already fallen off the competitive wagon in this edition’s qualifiers.
All the King’s men
Jordan’s blades of glory are hanging in the balance in tonight's portentous performance - a lot of hopes and national pride are riding on the Hashemite effort. Jordanian flags are draped across Amman cars, streets and edifices, and traffic is worse than usual -- it can only mean one thing...football! The go-to conversation topic of the week, Jordanians are fiercely proud of “Nashama” (their nickname for their national team) and turn up at the stadium in their thousands -- pictures of children clambering over their fathers’ shoulders with patriotic face paint become instantly symbolic in Amman.
National pride in Jordan is particularly poignant at this time -- the stoic nation has ridden the Arab Spring storm and remains unified in the face of external threats. Football is one of the celebrated occasions in the Kingdom when its diverse population of refugees from Palestine, Syria and Iraq come together with their hosts to cheer on Nashama.
As every great sport love story goes, it’s always about more than just the game. Global support is ringing out on social media in support of #gonashama and #believeinjordan. The second leg of the qualifier will be in Montevideo, so there's always 'away'....
From Al Bawaba to Al Nashama: Yallah Al Urdun!