Doha, 2 February 2024 - Jordan qualified for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 semi-finals for the first time in their history, following a 1-0 victory over Tajikistan at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Friday.
The West Asian nation had reached the quarter-finals twice, losing to Japan in 2004 and to Uzbekistan in 2011, while Tajikistan's maiden continental adventure ends at the quarter-finals after a series of heroic performances in Qatar 2023, the AFC website reported.
Jordanian goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila was left watching in fear as the ball bounced off the crossbar after Ehson Panjshanbe was first to poke Shervoni Mabatshoev's low cross from the right.
Tajikistan suffered a blow when forward Shahrom Samiev had to hobble off the pitch in tears following a hamstring injury, to be replaced by Rustam Soirov before the half-hour mark.
The first big Jordanian chance arrived a minute later when Mahmoud Al Mardi curled an in-swinging cross from the left flank towards the far post where Yazan Al Nuaimat lurked, but the forward's attempted finish saw the ball hitting the side netting.
Coach Petar Segrt's men were gifted a scoring chance on a silver platter seven minutes into the second half when left-back Salem Al Ajalin failed to deal with the ball, allowing Mabatshoev to snatch the ball and advance into the box, but with just the goalkeeper to beat, he fluffed his lines under pressure from defender Yazan Al Arab.
The deadlock was finally broken midway through the second half when defender Abdullah Nasib rose highest to head Ehsan Haddad's delivery from the corner, and his header bounced off Tajik defender Vahdat Hanonov before settling in the back of the net for Jordan's opener.
Jordan nearly doubled their lead two minutes later when a quick counter attack saw Yazan Al Nuaimat dance his way past two Tajik players before squaring for Al Taamari who had the goal at his mercy but sent his shot from 11 yards wide and high.
With their opponents remaining compact to defend their lead, Tajikistan resorted to long range shots as one of their few remaining solutions, and Alisher Shukurov nearly made one count in the 74th minute, but his strike from 30 yards out was brilliantly saved by a flying Abulaila who was able with the help of some resolute defending to keep the Tajiks at bay until the final whistle.
Coach Hussein Ammouta's men will face the winners of the Australia and Korea Republic in the semi-finals on Tuesday.