Egyptian twins eye World Cup berth with Jordan

Reuters

(Reuters) - Jordan's hopes of a first World Cup finals appearance lie in the hands of Egyptian twin brothers, with Hossam and Ibrahim Hassan leading the West Asians in the first leg of their Asia zone playoff against Uzbekistan on Friday.

Hossam Hassan was appointed head coach of Jordan in June shortly after the surprise resignation of Adnan Hamad, who had successfully steered the Jordanians through to the fifth round of Asian qualifying for the first time after beating Oman in their final group game.

Hossam and twin brother Ibrahim, who is assistant coach, played for Egypt at the 1990 World Cup and Hossam said there was no bigger privilege.

"Playing in the World Cup is the dream of every player," he told FIFA.com this week ahead of Friday's home first leg.

"There aren't words for what I experienced then and when I talk to the players I impress that on them. I talk to them about what it means to win and to have the honour of representing your country at the biggest festival of football in the world.

"I can tell that this team have a huge desire to go all the way and achieve their dream."

For the Hassan twins and Jordan to take part in Brazil they must first overcome the Uzbeks before taking on the fifth-placed side in South America in the intercontinental playoff in November for a finals berth.

Despite overseeing friendly wins over Palestine and Libya and an Asian Cup qualifying draw with Syria in August, Hossam felt his side lacked matches.

"I would have liked to play more games if there'd been time. After the Syria game we were hoping to get a fourth game in against Iraq, but it just wasn't possible, seeing as the most important members of the squad had commitments overseas .... we'll have to make do with intensive training."

FIGHT HARDER

The Uzbeks are also looking for a first World Cup appearance and are slight favourites to advance past Jordan with a better FIFA ranking and head to head, having lost just once in seven matches played between the two.

The Uzbeks, who were fourth at the 2011 Asian Cup, also have the experience of playing at this stage before, although they were beaten by Bahrain on away goals in 2005.

But Jordan will not be overawed, especially at home where they scored victories over the continent's top two sides - Japan and Australia - in the fourth round of qualifiers and are confident of taking a lead to Tashkent for the second leg on September 10.

"We have a lot of positives to draw on in Amman," Hassan said.

"When we play here we fight harder and the fans give the players a huge boost. Speed in attack is one of our great qualities, but I'll work to control the recklessness that might lose us the ball and give our opponents a chance to break back."

Recklessness was something previously associated with the Uzbeks but not anymore. Their coach Mirjalol Kasimov has sharpened a technically sound but mentally frail side into a well drilled outfit who recovered from a sloppy start to just miss out on automatic qualification on goal difference.

Kasimov, who turned down requests from Reuters to speak ahead of the key qualifier, will have to make do without first choice goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov and defender Shohruh Gadoev for the matches, however.

"We know that our people want us to qualify and whatever it takes, and with God's help, we will make that dream come true," talented midfielder Odil Ahmedov told FIFA.

"We have a golden opportunity against Jordan. If we win, we'll take on a team from South America, so we have four decisive matches in which to get to the World Cup."

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