Jordan’s great hope furthering his European education

  • Musa Al-Taamari is a pillar of Jordan’s national team

  • He believes Al-Nashama can progress to the decisive round of Qatar 2022 qualifiers

  • The player is now starring in Belgium after making his mark in Cyprus

Keen to continue achieving his long list of ambitious goals, Musa Al-Taamari has had a promising start to his football journey as he hurries to accumulate experience and develop his skills. The young winger carries the hopes of a great many Jordanians, who would love to see him raise his country’s profile in major international tournaments, foremost of which is the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

With only three games left in Group B of the AFC qualifiers for Qatar 2022, Jordan would have to win them all to guarantee qualification for the next round. Waiting in store are Kuwait (with whom they share 10 points), Nepal, and group leaders Australia (12 points) for what will effectively be three finals.

Jordanians are banking on their star Al-Taamari and his professional team-mates to bring something extra to the team and help them into the region’s final qualifying round for only the second time. The first time Jordan went that far was in the Brazil 2014 qualifiers, going all the way to the CONMEBOL-AFC intercontinental play-off, where they lost to Uruguay.

“We know full well that we can’t afford to drop any points,” Al-Taamari said of the qualifiers. "We’ll approach every match with the aim of winning it. We’re confident we’ll perform as we always have (playing with a fighting spirit) so as to achieve victory.”

Building on past successes

Next week, Al-Taamari and the rest of the squad will gather for a training camp in Dubai, where Jordan will play friendlies against Iraq and Syria. That will be an opportunity to bring the all the group together, having not played an international for months due to the coronavirus.

Building on some fine performance and results at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Al-Nashama have the potential to come back strongly and keep their hopes alive in the current World Cup qualifiers. At the aforementioned Asian Cup, Jordan beat Australia and Syria to top their first-round group.

“We went to that competition determined to show our strength and prove we had a lot to offer in games against the biggest teams,” said Al Taamari. “What we achieved in the first round gave us a lot of confidence to build on in the future.”

Jordan could well have advanced further in the UAE, but their last-16 defeat to Vietnam left a wound from which the team and the coaches aim to learn.

“Everything was going well until that game. It was one of those days when you feel football is not fair to you. We had no luck converting our chances or even our penalties [in the shoot-out]. Perhaps we wasted a historic opportunity to go far at that tournament.”

A European journey

Although still 23, Al-Taamari has a mature outlook and knows exactly what he needs to do. After rising to stardom in the Jordanian league with Shabab Al-Ordon and Aljazeera, he wanted to fast-track his progress. In the summer of 2018, he moved to Cyprus to play for APOEL, where he had a magnificent first season and and helped the club win the league and the Cypriot Super Cup.

Unsurprisingly, fans voted Al-Taamari the best player in the league and the best left-winger among foreign players for the 2018/19 season. He was also selected by several pundits for their team of the year.

“It was the perfect season for me,” he said. “I wanted to show my best, and thank God I succeeded. With APOEL I reached new heights, especially as I played in the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Champions League. When you play against big names like Ajax and Sevilla, who have won European titles, you know you are competing at the very top.”

Jordan national team player Musa Al-Taamari. (photo credit: Ahmad Alameen)

Al-Taamari then moved to the Belgian Pro League last month after signing for Oud-Heverlee Leuven. And though the season was already eight games old, he was soon in the thick of the action, facing heavyweights Anderlecht and Club Brugge.

“After the Cypriot league, I had to move to a championship where I could get closer to top European standards. In Belgium there are many big clubs that always feature in the Europa League and the Champions League. I soon saw the difference between Cyprus and Belgium. Here you spend more hours at your club and could have to attend two training sessions a day, several times a week.”

Al-Taamari wants to benefit from the Belgian experience as much as possible. “I have a number of objectives I want to achieve there: to develop my physical skills in terms of speed and running stats during games; to be able to carry out attacking and defence duties at the same time, while improving some other details that are important for every professional footballer.”

Al-Taamari has won the backing of all Jordanians over the past two years. Now that he is playing in the Belgian league, he will be watched even more closely to see what he can accomplish there. In addition to being an ambassador for Jordanian football in Europe, he remains one of the central pillars of the national team and someone on whom great hopes have been pinned.