The stunning upset for Jordan occurred when they faced South Korea in the AFC Asian Cup semi-final. Despite being ranked 87th in the world, Jordan played fearlessly against the third-best team in Asia, who were 64 places above them.

Throughout the tournament, South Korea developed a reputation for scoring late goals. However, this time Jordan’s defense held strong, securing their spot in the final. They will now face either Iran or the hosts and defending champions, Qatar.

Soccer Football – AFC Asian Cup – Semi Final – Jordan v South Korea – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar – February 6, 2024 Jordan’s Yazan Al Naimat scores their first goal. Photo: Reuters

“The players delivered a heroic performance. The X-factor was we didn’t need to give South Korea more respect than needed,” said Jordan’s Moroccan coach, Hussein Ammouta.

He continued, “Based on their record in their last few games, they conceded goals and we knew it was possible to score against them. That was the turning point.”

Yazan Al-Naimat, who had previously scored in the group stage 2-2 draw against South Korea, once again played a pivotal role in Jordan’s victory. His nimble footwork caused problems for the South Korean defense, while the tireless running of Al-Taamari also paid off.

Soccer Football – AFC Asian Cup – Semi Final – Jordan v South Korea – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar – February 6, 2024 South Korea’s Son Heung-Min in action with Jordan’s Yazan Al Arab. Photo: Reuters

The first half remained goalless, with Al-Naimat having the best opportunity for Jordan. He managed to skip past three defenders in the box, but his shot was straight at goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo, who made a reflex save.

On the other end, South Korea’s Lee Jae-sung came close to opening the scoring, but his header off Son Heung-min’s cross hit the post, giving Jordan a reprieve.

Eventually, Jordan found the breakthrough.

Al-Taamari intercepted a poor back pass in midfield and played a defense-splitting pass to find Al-Naimat, who chipped the ball over the keeper to score his third goal of the tournament.

As they did against Iraq in the last-16, Jordan celebrated the goal by sitting around Al-Naimat as he humorously pretended to hand them cups of tea.

Soccer Football – AFC Asian Cup – Semi Final – Jordan v South Korea – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar – February 6, 2024 Jordan’s Mohammad Abu Hasheesh in action with South Korea’s Lee Kang-In. Photo: Reuters

Al-Taamari, who had been one of the busiest players on the pitch, had his moment to shine. He skillfully made a solo run past a static defense and curled his shot past the keeper, sending the Jordanian fans in the stadium into raptures.

“This victory started with the fans, but I must say the coach said this was a match where we should have fun. We would like to dedicate it to the people of Morocco,” expressed Al-Taamari.

He added, “I dreamed about this Asian Cup a month ago. I started training with that mentality when I was in France with Montpellier. It means everything to me that we’re in the final.”

South Korea coach Juergen Klinsmann had no answers to Jordan’s press and fluid attacks. Standing on the touchline, he watched his team exit the tournament without managing a single shot on target in the semi-final.

Soccer Football – AFC Asian Cup – Semi Final – Jordan v South Korea – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar – February 6, 2024 Jordan’s Abdallah Nasib with South Korea’s Son Heung-Min after the match. Photo: Reuters

“Obviously, we’re disappointed. We had the big goal of playing in the final, but Jordan deserves this win. They deserve to play in the final,” admitted Klinsmann.

He continued, “They played more aggressively, they won almost every one-v-one battle, and they got better.”

Klinsmann took responsibility for South Korea’s exit but did not indicate any intentions to resign. Instead, he mentioned that he would analyze the tournament and discuss with the federation the positives and areas for improvement.