Belgian Vital Borkelmans looking for Jordan to prove themselves against Saudi Arabia

Vital Borkelmans is the new Jordan boss and has been tasked with getting the team to make an impression at next year's Asian Cup. (AFP)
Updated 01 October 2018

Belgian Vital Borkelmans looking for Jordan to prove themselves against Saudi Arabia

  • New Jordan boss looking to use friendly against Green Falcons to gauge where his side are ahead of the Asian Cup.
  • Borkelmans wants to create a new level of confidence in the Jordan camp.

LONDON: New Jordan national team coach Vital Borkelmans is looking forward to
November’s Asian Cup warm-up against Saudi Arabia and a chance to prove that his side can shock at the continental competition taking place in the UAE in January.
The 55-year-old was No. 2 to Belgium boss Marc Wilmots from 2012 to 2016, four years when the Red Devils established themselves as one of the best teams in the world and now has a different challenge.
The former international full-back is now charged with making Jordan a continental power, starting with the Asian Cup where they have been dumped in a tricky group with defending champions Australia, Syria and Palestine.
Saudi Arabia, who made six out of seven continental finals between 1984 and 2007 — winning three — have excellent Asian Cup credentials and Borkelmans expects and hopes for a tough test in Amman.
“Saudi Arabia (are) a good team,” Borkelmans told Arab News. “They are strong, as I saw at the World Cup, and after that first game with Russia, Saudi Arabia performed well against Uruguay and then beat Egypt — to win a game at the World Cup is a special thing.
“They are always in tournaments and they are a team that can show us what we have to do to succeed at the Asian Cup.”
If all goes well then Borkelmans’ contract may be extended until beyond January.
“They called me about it in May when we played against Cyprus when I was assistant coach to Jamal (Abu Abed) and I had been in the country 15 days. We had a good game against them.”
In early September, he got the top job. Most of his experience so far has been as an assistant but it has been valuable experience indeed. There is not much time before the Asian Cup but his first target is to try and replicate the atmosphere that he helped create with Belgium.
“I was working with Marc Wilmots with Belgium, we started in 2012 and we made a big family and that was very important,” he said. “It was a lot of the same squad and same players. Now with my job here, I also have a good group with a good mentality, the best players in Jordan. We will try our best. I believe in what I am doing and my staff believe in me.”
Belief is crucial to what Borkelmans is trying to do with a team that reached the last eight of the Asian Cup in 2004 and 2011.
“You must give players confidence. If I can increase the players’ confidence then I can get a 20-30 percent increase in quality and that can make the difference between success and failure.
“Sometimes I must put my efforts on the line and I am more than a father. When you are playing with young guys this is very important — look at some of the young players who have come up to play for Belgium, confidence is key.”
Jordan does not yet have the quality of Belgium, but if the new coach can make a difference in helping domestic stars become international ones, that will be another step in the right direction.
“There is a lot of difference between Belgian and Jordan players,” Borkelmans said. “Belgian players obviously go and play outside Belgium in bigger numbers but there is more than that. They play in the big clubs in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France and they are also starting.
“But this is not Belgium and I have to choose Jordan players. The league here is not at a  high level compared to other leagues in Europe, but I have to give people a chance to get good results. I am giving the players a lot of responsibility. If we work together, we can make a surprise at the Asian Cup. I believe this.”


Anthony Joshua to face Andy Ruiz for world championship rematch in Saudi Arabia

Updated 20 November 2019

Anthony Joshua to face Andy Ruiz for world championship rematch in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: British boxer Anthony Joshua will face his Mexican rival, Andy Ruiz Jr, in Saudi Arabia for the World Heavyweight Boxing rematch in Diriyah Arena on December 7.

“I think my father would be happy and proud to watch this event take place in the Kingdom. When my father visited Saudi Arabia 48 years ago, he was warmly welcomed by its people. He repeated his visits when he came to perform Hajj and Umrah,” Rasheda Ali Walsh, daughter of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali, said of the Clash on the Dunes fight.

This is Walsh’s second visit to Saudi Arabia to attend the World Boxing Championship, which she also attended last year in Jeddah, where she handed the Muhammad Ali Clay Championship Cup to boxer Callum Smith after defeating his opponent George Groves in the super middleweight bout. That championship was the first major tournament hosted by the Kingdom under the supervision of the General Sports Authority.

Commenting on her recent visit Jeddah, Walsh said: “Handing over my father’s cup is my biggest prize. It is not just a great achievement for the world champion, but an honor in itself for my father’s history and career in this sport.”

Joshua is trying to regain his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles after suffering a painful defeat in New York to Ruiz Jr in June. He will be seeking revenge in the historic “Clash on the Dunes” match in front of more than 15,000 boxing fans.

Other professional boxers will also be competing, including Russia’s Alexander Povetkin, who will face his US counterpart Michael Hunter in the qualifying match for the World Boxing Championship.

Croatian star, Filip Hrgovic, will battle for the World Boxing Council Championship’s title with American Eric Molina.

The audience will also have the chance to watch former WBA Champion Scott Koenig return to the boxing circuit after a year-long absence due to injury.

The announcement comes as part of an entertainment season which will include the Formula E Championship and the Diriyah Tennis Cup, as well as equestrian championships in which winners will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in Japan.

Tickets are available on www.diriyahseason.sa.