Son Heung-min was supposed to be the star of the show in the semi-finals, but instead it was Moussa Al-Tamari, whose stellar performance took Jordan closer to Asian Cup glory. The 26-year-old pacer scored one goal and set up another as Jordan beat Son's South Korea 2-0 to reach Saturday's final for the first time in their history. There they will meet host and defending champion Qatar. On paper, Jordan – 87 in the FIFA rankings – are underdogs, but with Tamari and fellow forward Yazan Al-Naimat in tremendous form no one would bet against them pulling off another shock.
Tamari, who also scored twice in the 4-0 thrashing of Malaysia in the tournament opener, is the only member of the Jordan squad to play in Europe.
What's more, he has achieved success in it, first in Belgian football with Oud-Heverlee Leuven and last summer with top-flight French side Montpellier.
After his contract with Leuven expired he moved to the Ligue 1 club on a free transfer, he also reportedly had options in the second tier of Spain, Turkey and England.
The first Jordanian to play in France's Ligue 1, Tamari has been a revelation in 16 appearances for a struggling Montpellier side, scoring five times.
“He is strong, he keeps moving forward and he also defends,” Montpellier coach Michel Der Zakarian said after Tamari made a bright start to life in France.
“He's a good guy and he's a hard-working guy.”
As Jordan's most famous player and fast dribbler, Tamari has essentially been dubbed the “Jordan Messi”, something he is not a fan of.
Tamari was born in Amman, the capital of Jordan, to a football-mad family and started kicking a ball at the age of about six.
His mother wanted him to focus on school but the strong-willed boy had one dream – to play in one of the top five leagues in Europe.
As a teenager he played club football in Jordan and attracted attention after just a few matches, earning an international call-up barely two months after his 19th birthday.
Within two years he was being scouted abroad and was snapped up by Cypriot giants APOEL, where comparisons to Lionel Messi first emerged.
His successful time there brought Champions League qualifying matches, home and away fixtures against European giants Ajax and a domestic title. He was also named MVP of the Cyprus League.
He moved to Belgium for a reported fee of just over one million euros in 2020, scoring 10 goals, before switching to Montpellier last summer.
Tamari was brilliant against a South Korean defense that didn't know how to handle her or Naimat's pace and power, who has also scored three times in this Asian Cup.
South Korea captain Son watched and applauded as Tamari picked up the ball in his own half and beat the Korean rearguard to score a spectacular second goal for Jordan.
After the semi-final, his Moroccan coach Hussein Ammouta said that he needed more players to follow in Tamari's footsteps if the country's football was to move forward. Jordan has never been to the World Cup.
Tamari says the talent lies at home, but cautions her countrymen that they need more than that.
“Commitment, mentality and discipline are very important things and are the basis of professionalism,” he told AFP in Qatar.
“If you lack them, you can't succeed.”
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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