Jordan are just hours away from their first appearance at a FIFA U-20 World Championship, and there is a real sense of adventure and optimism among Jan Poulsen's charges as they make their final preparations in the city of Burnaby, just east of Vancouver.
The veteran Danish tactician said he was pleased with the attitude and performance of his squad in recent training sessions, and that his main concern now was to try and keep his players' nerves in check ahead of the big day.
For his part, team captain Anas Bani Yaseen is very clear about his side's goals for the tournament: "Our primary objective is to play well and give a good account of ourselves. That's what the coach has asked of us. We want people to see we can really play as a team, and if by doing that we get good results, then great."
It was precisely this ethos that proved so successful at the AFC Youth Championship in November 2006, when the kingdom created a huge upset by first coming out of a group containing Korea Republic, Kyrgyzstan and hosts India, and then eliminating the powerful China PR in the quarter-finals (2-1). "It was a very special feeling. The first thing we did was call our families to tell them we'd made it. It was truly wonderful," recalls the skipper.
For three seasons now, Bani Yassen has been playing his club football for modest Jordanian outfit Al-Arabi, who won promotion to the country's top flight last year and maintained it this season by virtue of a seventh-place league finish. It goes without saying then that the defender understands the wonderful opportunity Canada 2007 presents him and his team-mates: "Being here gives you the chance to make a name for yourself, to show everyone you're a good player."
The Asian side get their campaign underway this Sunday against Zambia at the Swangard stadium. "Zambia are a good side and, like all African teams, very strong physically. In fact, all our group rivals are very tough. That said, we've a very good team spirit and are capable of making an impression in this group," says Anas.
Jordan follow their opening fixture with two equally challenging assignments, against Uruguay (4 July) and Spain (7 July). But not even this prospect seems capable of dampening the upbeat mood in the Jordanian camp. "It's a great feeling to be at a World Cup. It's not easy to qualify for one, and so we were thrilled when we booked our places here. We're also proud to be able to represent Jordan at this tournament."
Despite the historic significance of the occasion, the captain insists the team are not feeling nervous, as there is more pressure on their opponents: "We're the only Arabic side here, and so we want leave a very good impression. We really hope we can do that."