AL AIN: Anas Bani Yaseen scored the only goal of the game as Jordan stunned defending champions Australia to kick off the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 with a 1-0 victory over the Socceroos in their Group B opener at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.
Also in Group B Palestine claimed their first-ever point in a 0-0 draw with Syria while, in Group A, India registered their first victory in the finals in 55 years as they beat Thailand 4-1.
In Al Ain Yaseen’s first-half header earned Vital Borkelmans’ side all three points against an Australia team that dominated possession throughout the 90 minutes but was unable to find a way past goalkeeper Amer Shafi.
Graham Arnold’s side spent much of the game camped in the Jordanian half, only for the West Asian nation to take a hard-earned win that will set them up perfectly for their next meeting with neighbours Syria on January 11.
While an Australia side boasting the likes of Tom Rogic and Massimo Luongo was expected to dominate, it was the Jordanians who had shown a real threat in the final third from early in the game.
Yousef Rawshedh tested Maty Ryan with 10 minutes on the clock while Mousa Suleiman should have done better when he was given time to turn in the area, only to pull his shot across the face of goal.
Those chances had come despite Australia dominating possession, with much of the opening period being played in the Jordanian half of the field.
But the Socceroos struggled to unlock the disciplined backline Vital Borkelmans’ has constructed until Robbie Kruse’s delightful through ball found Awer Mabil in space behind the defence. Mabil’s his first-time shot was kept out when Amer Shafi used his legs.
Australia looked less than assured in defence and after Josh Risdon put the ball out for a corner, Jordan took full advantage. Baha’ Abdelrahman’s corner found Bai Yaseen unmarked 10 yards from goal and the 30-year-old defender headed beyond a flat-footed Ryan.
Minutes later Jordan almost doubled their lead after Trent Sainsbury’s foul on Suleiman provided Abdelrahman the opportunity to go for goal from the edge of the area, only for Ryan to tip the free-kick onto the crossbar.
Graham Arnold’s side continued to dominate as the Jordanians put men behind the ball and sat deep. For all their territorial superiority, though, the Socceroos could not manufacture a way through.
Mabil did find enough space behind the defence early in the second half to be able to drive a low ball across the face of goal that Shafi did well to push to the feet of one of his own defenders, while Rogic’s dipping shot from range was also beaten away by the goalkeeper.
At the other end, Bakheet’s trickery and direct running remained a threat to the Australian backline, the UAE-based winger sending his long range drive just off target moments after beating two defenders and seeing the ball shepherded out for a corner.
Australia’s frustrations grew even greater 12 minutes from time when Mabil saw his low drive come back off the base of Shafi’s left upright while substitute Jackson Irvine steered his header wide three minutes later.
The Socceroos continued to push and Shafi was forced into action in the final seconds of the game as Jordan recorded an historic result.