The Asian Confederation of Football already has four out of the potential five candidates selected that will represent the region at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Through their two groups of qualification, the winner and the runner up qualify automatically, with the third placed teams entering into the fifth round playing each other, and then moving to an intercontinental playoff against the fifth placed team of the South American qualifiers.
Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea are the teams that have qualified directly with Uzbekistan and Jordan, continuing to the fifth round of qualifiers taking place this past weekend. Neither team has qualified for the World Cup before, which means that if the results were to turn in either favor, footballing culture in the winning nation would increase for generations to come.
The first leg of the fifth round was in Amman, and resulted in a 1-1 draw that was more dull to watch than expected. Uzbekistan has drawn headlines recently, with their counter attacking style of playing that surprised and scared competitors for the duration of their qualifying campaign.
The second leg in Tashkent saw another dull performance from both sides that produced an identical result, and provoked extra time that eventually led to penalties. The Uzbeks were prohibited their natural fluid motion of football, as Jordan continuously fouled and stopped football from being played, clearly a tactical and logical move to gain an upper hand. Penalties ensued, and Uzbekistan’s Odil Ahmedov banged the post and was the first of the night to miss his penalty; the Jordanians would take the victory when it finished 9-8 in their favor. Not much is known about the actual penalties taken, because the television transmission was cut off just as the third penalty was being taken.
It is a rather sad story for the Central Asian side, as the nation has come close to qualifying several times before. This time around it seemed as if they would secure their first qualification early, but several mishaps in key games against South Korea and Iran saw them get lower on the table and lose the advantage they had gained early.
Now comes the bigger test for the Jordanians, as they will undoubtedly face a national team significantly higher ranked than they are, and will need to search for a different tactical stance, rather than the fouling they have relied on previously.
Alejandro de Jesus is a contributing Soccer writer for RantSports.com. You can follow Alejandro on Twitter right here @GeograFOOT