The Asian Cup quarter-finals begin on Friday with a pair of teams appearing at this stage of the competition for the first time as Tajikistan and Jordan face off at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.
Despite having only 34% possession in their knockout match, Tajikistan looked poised for a comfortable victory before a late goal by the UAE brought them back.
Although the Asian Cup debutants should have sealed the game in the second half, they showed composure in the shootout, winning their first-ever tournament knockout fixture since the 2023 Merdeka Tournament.
Tajikistan has only lost one of their last nine competitive matches and has conceded one goal or less in each of those games.
They have conceded two of the three goals in the second half of this tournament, with the first goal being conceded on two occasions.
While they gave up a late goal in the round of 16, Tajikistan remains unbeaten in their last six matches when scoring the opening goal.
Tajikistan has an undefeated record against Jordan in their previous two meetings, winning 1-0 in a friendly in February 2021 and drawing 1-1 in a 2026 World Cup qualifying match last November.
Jordan has been no stranger to late dramatics in the 2023 Asian Cup, and it proved beneficial for them in the round of 16 as they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
On matchday two, Jordan conceded an own-goal equalizer to South Korea in a 2-2 draw, and on Monday, they mounted a dramatic comeback by scoring in the 95th and 97th minute to secure victory against Iraq.
All three of Jordan’s goals against Iraq came in either the first or second-half stoppage time, and their last four goals have been scored in those periods as well.
Now, Jordan has a chance to achieve something they haven’t done since September 2022 – win consecutive international matches.
This will be the third time Jordan plays a quarter-final match at the Asian Cup, having narrowly lost 2-1 to Uzbekistan in 2011 and suffered a 4-3 defeat on penalties against Japan in 2004 after a 1-1 draw.
Jordan has won three of their five previous encounters with Tajikistan, conceding only two goals in those matches.
Tajikistan made only one change to their starting lineup from matchday three to the round of 16 clash, with Shahrom Samiev replacing Rustam Soirov.
Mukhammadzhon Rakhimov collected his 50th cap for the national team, while Ehson Panjshanbe and Parvizdzhon Umarbayev are one cap away from reaching that milestone. Akhtam Nazarov has made 80 appearances.
Vakhdat Khanonov scored his third goal for the national team in their last match, but it was Rustam Yatimov who emerged as the hero by saving a Caio Canedo penalty, allowing Alisher Shukurov to score the winning spot-kick.
After receiving a red card in stoppage time against Iraq, Jordan will be without Hamza Al-Dardour for this match.
Yazan Al-Arab reached 50 caps for the senior side in their round of 16 clash, Rajaei Ayed is two caps away from that milestone, and Mohammad Abu Zrayq made his 25th appearance in their previous match.
Yazan Al-Naimat opened the scoring for Jordan against Iraq, with Al-Arab and Nizar Al-Rashdan also finding the net.
Possible starting lineups:
Safarov, Khanonov, Dzhuraboyev, Nazarov;
Shukorov, Rakmimov, Umarbayev;
Soiroz, Samiev, Khamrokulov
Nasib, Al-Arab, Al-Ajalin;
Haddad, Al-Rashdan, Rateb, Al-Mardi;
Al-Taamari, Al-Naimat, Al-Dardour
Prediction: Tajikistan 2-1 Jordan
Both teams have shown great resilience recently, but we lean towards Tajikistan because they have performed better overall and have nothing to lose at this stage.