Jordan end Tajikistan fairytale to reach first Asian Cup semi-final

DOHA: Jordan set up a semi-final against South Korea or Australia after ending Tajikistan's fairytale Asian Cup run with a nervy 1-0 win on Friday.

In a cagey quarter-final, a deflected second-half own goal was just about enough to see Jordan reach the last four for the first time.

It was tough on charismatic Croatian coach Petar Segrt and his Tajikistan team, who were the lowest-ranked side left in Qatar and won plenty of new friends in their first Asian Cup.

But it was a piece of history for Jordan under their Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta, the country having been defeated in their previous quarter-finals in 2004 and 2011.

"We were rewarded for our efforts and our ambitions are getting bigger and bigger," said defender Yazan Al-Arab, who was named man of the match.

"This was history. We are into the semi-finals and we rely on our fans to keep supporting us no matter who we play.

"We need now to forget the Tajikistan match and concentrate on the semi-finals and our dream of reaching the final."

Jordan, ranked 87 in the world to the 106 of Tajikistan, scored twice in stoppage time to stun Iraq 3-2 in the previous round and they made the better start in front of 36,000 spectators at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, a 2022 World Cup venue.

But Tajikistan carved out the first big chance, midfielder Ehson Panjshanbe haring into the box and clipping his first-time effort onto the top of Jordan's bar on 15 minutes.

VAR was called into action when Tajikistan's Zoir Dzhuraboev sliced down Yazan Al-Naimat in the box but VAR agreed with the referee and said no penalty.

Segrt was forced into a change midway through the half when Shahrom Samiev was forced off with a hamstring injury, the striker departing in floods of tears.

Jordan fans dominated in the crowd and thought their team had scored on the half-hour mark, but danger man Naimat poked wide from a tight angle.

In front of Jordan's watching Crown Prince Hussein, they had a double chance just afterwards, but Ali Olwan was denied by Rustam Yatimov and then the goalkeeper saved Rajaei Ayed's weak follow-up.

Tajikistan looked fatigued from their exertions in defeating the United Arab Emirates on penalties in the last 16 and were restricted to playing on the break.

Segrt's men stepped it up to start the second half.

Shervoni Mabatshoev was crowded out in the box with only Jordan goalkeeper Yazeed Abulaila to beat but with an hour gone and the semi-finals on the line the game needed a spark.

On 66 minutes it got it when Jordan defender Abdallah Nasib rose at a corner and his header deflected off Tajikistan's Vahdat Hanonov and into his own goal.

Both sides had chances after that but Jordan held on to book their place in the last four.

"They deserved to win because they were a little better than us," said Segrt.

"They had more experience, but a big compliment to my players.

"I want to say they deserve all respect from the tournament, the teams and everybody in Tajikistan."

Son Heung-min's South Korea face Australia later Friday.

In Saturday's remaining quarter-finals, holders Qatar face Uzbekistan while pre-tournament favourites Japan play Iran. -- AFP

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