AMMONNEWS - It was a memorable year for sport in 2016, both on and off the pitch.
As well as the notable achievements on the global level, Jordan underlined its position as a serious partner for the world of sport by hosting the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup to great acclaim.
It was a dream come true for the young Jordanian starlets who performed so valiantly against the world’s best in their age group.
But after the fanfare died down, rather than rest on their laurels and bask in the glory, Jordan went out and secured another major tournament in the 2018 Women’s Asian Cup with the host team already planning their participation.
The Jordan Olympic Committee News Service caught up with the team preparing to make an impact and spoke with technical manager Maher Abu Hantash.
“Our preparations are going as planned,” he said. “In December, we brought the squad together and focused on endurance and physical fitness, now we are in the second phase and working on identifying the players’ places in the team, in addition to playing friendly matches to reach the required level.”
A number of the U-17 World Cup team have now graduated to the seniors which the manager believes will be a big help.
“The current national team is a mix of previous players in the team and players who participated in the World Cup last year, which gives us the chance to prepare a perfect team.
“The World Cup has had its influence, especially in the facilities which will help us a lot in preparing the team.”
One of those players to step up is Stephanie Al Naber who played a starring role for Jordan back in September.
“It was quite a long break after the World Cup so we are excited to be back together again and preparing,” she said. “This is a big step up for us but we have time to prepare and I believe we will reach even better levels at the Asian Cup.”
One of the side’s veterans is Yasmeen Kheir whose return to the national team brings with it a host of international experience at the highest levels.
“To be back training with the national team is important for me as we have a role to highlight that women’s football is here to stay in Jordan,” she said.
Goalkeeper Rand Al Bustanji said that she has never felt fitter with the coaches working hard on their endurance, and she called her World Cup experience “a dream come true”.
The draw for the Asian Cup groups will take place in Amman on Saturday. Twenty-one countries will be vying for four places with Australia, Japan and China already qualified alongside Jordan who are the hosts.