Dushanbe: Four goals from the prolific Maysa Jbarah helped Jordan beat Iraq and cement their place at the top table on Matchday three of the Group A AFC Women’s Asian Cup Jordan 2018 qualifiers.
The victory took Jordan back to the top of the standings, but with the West Asians already assured of qualification due to the hosting duties they will perform next year, second-placed Philippines – 8-0 conquerors of Tajikistan earlier in the day – are now favourites to seal the one ticket available should head coach Maher Abu Hantash’s charges remain in pole position.
Jbarah, who has now scored 11 times in three games, was at the heart of a fine Jordanian performance, but it was Shahnaz Jebreen who opened the scoring at the Republican Central Stadium within the first sixty seconds thanks to a fine drive from inside the box.
Despite several fine saves from Iraq goalkeeper Khalat Asaad Mustafa, Jordan extended their lead on 20 minutes, Luna Almasri’s expertly converting Jebreen’s pass to complete a fine flowing move.
Captain Stephanie Alnaber then picked herself up after being fouled in the area to convert a 27th minute penalty, before Jbarah grabbed her side’s fourth of the day ahead of the break.
There was to be no respite for the Iraqis after the break, as Alnaber successfully despatched yet another penalty, and Jbarah headed in her second of the game from a corner.
Iraq’s woes continued when Zahraa Ahmed Breesam put through her own goal and Jbarah registered her third hat-trick of the qualifiers with a powerful 79th minute header.
Not to be outdone, Alnaber headed home a Jebreen cross to complete a hat-trick of her own, while Jbarah was on hand to round off the scoring in style with a delightful shot from distance.
Jordan head coach Maher Abu Hantash:
“We want to finish first in the group and I wanted to score many goals to maintain our favourable goal difference ahead of the last match against the Philippines. From game to game our level is improving and this has been reflected in the scoring. I am also pleased that we have so many players who can score.”
Jordan captain Stephanie Alnaber:
“We were after the three points today, and then of course the goal difference. I’m grateful for the win, the goal difference, and of course for the hat-trick. We will now have a good break and we are looking forward to the next two matches, taking each game as it comes, aiming for the first place in the group.”
Iraq assistant coach Salam Omar:
“Our players didn’t play well today. The Jordan team are excellent and we were technically not at their level. This is football. Now we go into the rest days to gather our thoughts, and we will train for next week.”
Photo: Tajikistan Football Federation