AL AIN, UAE (Reuters) - Jordan handed neighbours Syria a 2-0 defeat on Thursday to become the first nation to book a berth in the knockout phase of the Asian Cup as hosts the United Arab Emirates strengthened their chances of advancing with victory over India.
Alberto Zaccheroni’s side beat the Indians 2-0 in the day’s late game to pick up their first win of the tournament and move to the top of the standings in Group A having already drawn with Bahrain.
India are second, level on three points with Thailand after Chanathip Songkrasin struck to earn the War Elephants a 1-0 win over the Bahrainis. In Group B, the Jordanians outplayed and out-thought Syria - a shadow of the side that narrowly missed out on qualifying for last year’s World Cup - to notch up their second win after beating defending champions Australia on Sunday.
Vital Borkelmans’ side put on an impressive first half display to see off Bernd Stange’s team, taking the lead through Mousa Suleiman before Tareq Khattab added a second. The win means Jordan, who face the Palestinians in their final group game, cannot finish any lower than second.
“My guys made a great performance and tactically they were very good,” said Borkelmans. “....The country can be proud of my players.” Jordan will appear in the knockout phase of the competition for the third time.
The Emirates had goals from Khalfan Mubarak and Ali Mabkhout to thank for boosting their campaign with victory over India.
Mubarak struck to put Zaccheroni’s team in front and Mabkhout added a decisive second two minutes from time.
Sunil Chhetri missed the chance to level the scores just before the break as India chased a second win in five days while Udanta Singh hit the crossbar for Stephen Constantine’s side.
Thailand’s Chanathip was the hero for his side just days after coach Milovan Rajevac was fired following their opening loss to the Indians. The Consadole Sapporo midfielder smashed home his side’s winner just before the hour mark.
editing by John Stonestreet