Debutants Jordan surprised the watching world at the senior 2004 AFC Asian Cup by storming into the last-eight. As a result of that milestone, football development has sped up to break-neck speed in the Kingdom and the emergence of a new generation of scintillating talent has the future looking bright.

Their latest success came at the 2006 AFC Youth Championship where they reached the final-four to book passage to their first-ever FIFA U-20 World Cup. Inspired by recent morale-boosting results, the Jordanian youth side - under Danish coach Jan Poulsen - are hoping to emulate the seniors' feat of two years ago when they step onto the international stage at Canada 2007 as first-timers.

Qualifying
Jordan booked their place at the finals in Canada by defeating 2004 AFC Youth Championship runners-up China PR at the all-important quarter-final stage. Poulsen's young charges pulled off the tournament's biggest shock against the fancied Eastern Asians and made history by booking a place at the most prestigious youth tournament on Planet Football.

Drawn into Group A alongside defending Asian champions Korea Republic, hosts India and outsiders Kyrgyzstan, Jordan looked to have been thrown in at the deep end. Their qualifying hopes dangled by a thread following a disappointing 3-0 opening defeat to the Koreans. However, the resilient Jordanian teenagers proved they were not there just to make up the numbers as they rallied back to edge India 3-2 before bravely holding Kyrgyzstan nil-all to book passage to the knockout stage as second-place group finishers. Then came their most memorable game of the qualifying campaign as they stunned China 2-1 to advance to Canada.

Coach
60-year-old Jan Poulsen is no stranger in Asian football circles, having spent four years in Singapore between 1999 and 2003 as Technical Director and National Team Coach. He was also a member of the coaching staff that masterminded Denmark's fairy-tale run in the 1992 UEFA UEFA European Championship - still considered by many to be the biggest shock in football history.

Poulsen also has bags of experience at the youth level, starting his coaching career with youth teams, secondary schools and university sides. From 1992 to 1999 he became the head coach of Denmark's under-21 national team. His expertise in the youth scene didn't go unnoticed as he was appointed Jordan youth coach in 2006 and within a short stretch of a few months he quickly molded the squad into a side that had shed their inferiority complex and learned to compete with the continent's best.

Star player
Abdallah Salim proved the driving force behind Jordan's unlikely qualifying run. The midfielder did a stunning job throughout the qualifying campaign, bossing the team's attack from the middle of the park with deadly crosses and deft short passes. Aside from providing service for his team-mates, he also scored a handful of crucial goals when needed. He showed his offensive inspiration best in the 2-1 victory against China as he had a hand in both of Jordan's goals. In the 33rd minute, after a series of combinations in front of the penalty area, Salim fired a low shot from the left that hit the far post and rebounded to the feet of the unmarked Loiy Al Zaideh for the opening goal. In the second half Salim won a penalty for Jordan that he successfully converted to put the game all but beyond doubt.

Record

  • Canada 2007 will be Jordan's first appearance at a FIFA U-20 World Cup
What they said...
"Having seen China play in the group games, we knew that it will not be easy, but we also knew that a victory was possible. The players were under pressure in the second half and but they held their cool. It was a surprise for all of us and the win over China proved to be a morale-booster for my players. They started believing in themselves and we proved that we are no pushovers." (Jordan coach Jan Poulsen after the team beat China 2-1 to book passage to Canada 2007)