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Jordan's Yazeed Abulaila and Ehsan Haddad celebrate after reaching the AFC Asian Cup final. Image Credit: Reuters

Doha: Jordan coach Hussein Ammouta hopes their surprise run to the Asian Cup final will spark broader development in the country’s football and propel Jordanian players into the Premier League.

Second-half goals from the impressive attacking duo of Yazan Al Naimat and Mousa Al Tamari sent Jordan into the final for the first time with a 2-0 win over South Korea.

South Korea’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann and skipper Son Heung-min admitted that Jordan, the lowest-ranked team left in the tournament, fully deserved their semi-final victory on Tuesday.

“The players delivered a heroic performance,” the Moroccan Ammouta said after taking Jordan into the final for the first time at their fifth Asian Cup.

They will face either Iran or the hosts and reigning champions Qatar.

No matter what happens on Saturday, the widely admired Ammouta says their landmark achievement must be the spark for something longer lasting in Jordanian football.

“We need to invest in infrastructure, in the training and formation of our players to reach higher levels,” he said.

“We need to pay attention to age categories.”

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Jordan's fans celebrate their team's victory over South Korea at the end of the Qatar 2023 AFC Asian Cup semi-final at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, west of Doha, on Tuesday. Image Credit: AFP

Impressive show

Ammouta says that change is already afoot, citing the example of the impressive Tamari, who together with Naimat terrorised South Korea’s shell-shocked defence.

Tamari, who set Naimat up for the opening goal on 53 minutes before slicing through the Korean defence for a second 13 minutes later, left Jordan’s domestic league in 2018.

First came a move to Cypriot giants APOEL, before leaving for Belgian football two years later with Oud-Heverlee Leuven.

Last summer, after 10 goals and nine assists for the top-flight Belgian side, Tamari sealed a free transfer to Montpellier in France.

Tamari is the only member of Jordan’s Asian Cup squad playing in Europe and Ammouta says for the national side to build on their success in Qatar more need to follow in his footsteps.

“What you saw today was the fruit of several years of work,” Ammouta said after the South Korea triumph.

“We have Mousa al-Tamari in the French league and hopefully we will have four or five Jordanian players in the French league or the English Premier League.

“When you look at Japan or Korea you see players who are playing abroad and they have great value to their national teams.

“This is what we should start planning for — how will we produce players who will play in the world’s biggest leagues?

“This a building block that’s part of a bigger plan.”

‘Winning culture’

First, Jordan must upset the odds once again in the final in Doha.

Ranked 87 in the world by FIFA, they will be the underdogs no matter if they face Qatar or Iran.

Tamari afterwards attempted to deflect from his own man-of-the-match performance against South Korea.

“This victory started with the fans, not us,” said Tamari, who was seated at the post-match press conference with Ammouta.

“This man told us to have fun — yes, it was a semi-final.

“He instilled in us a winning culture.

“We want to dedicate this victory to the people of Morocco and the coach.”