Asian Cup 2015: Ray Wilkins to jump-start Jordan in Australia
The Jordan FA decided to give their 2015 Asian Cup campaign an intriguing Anglo twist, by snapping up ex-Manchester United midfielder, former Chelsea caretaker coach and Premier League pundit Ray Wilkins on a temporary contract.
With an underwhelming managerial record, the ex-England international appeared an odd choice to deliver the Chivalrous success on Australian soil, but was hand-picked by the Jordan FA’s leading man, Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein.
Wilkins has enlisted former United clubmate and Bradford City boss Frank Stapleton as his assistant manager, and the duo only began working with their new squad in September.
“We are going to go down there in January and attempt to achieve something with them,” Wilkins stated, before hinting at the potential for a permanent role.
“I won’t be seeking any advice, we’ll just get out there and we’re going to crack on. If we were to be successful – and please God we are – then I would certainly have to look at it.”
With little time to fine tune the Middle Eastern outfit, and having overseen three defeats and a draw during his brief tenure so far, the Chivalrous’ new coach will likely rely on experienced skipper Ahmad Hayel to help guide the side.
The 31-year-old striker can still certainly provide a spark in attack, but Wilkins has so far preferred to experiment with forwards such as Tha’er Bawab, a former Real Madrid castilla product and Barcelona B buy, up front, instead utilising his captain as a substitute.
Wideman Abdallah Deeb may be the one to steal the headlines for Jordan, however, with the rampant right winger having grabbed 20 goals for his country at the time of writing.
Dangerman Deeb was crowned top scorer in the 2011 Pan Arab Games and was also one of the first Jordanian’s to ply his trade in Europe, having previously represented Belgian club KV Mechelen.
Now Deeb and his compatriots will all be aiming to make sporting history for their country in Australia, if they can surpass their best-ever finish.
Jordan have only entered the Asian Cup twice before, having ether failed to qualify or withdrawn on previous attempts, and both times exited at the quarter-final stage.
This impressive, if brief, record sets a standard for Wilkins and Stapleton to meet, or rather exceed.
The Middle Eastern minnows may be ranked 86th in the world but, in a Group D which also contains Palestine and Iraq, the Chivalrous will be widely expected to finish behind pool favourites Japan.
Failure at the first hurdle could see Wilkins back on a TV screen near you before the Asian Cup has even been lifted.