Pablo Bateson will attend all of Australia’s 2014 World Cup qualifying matches. He followed the Socceroos from Lebanon to Jordan as the journey to Brazil continues.
It’s a still and pleasantly mild morning in Amman, with the ‘call to prayer’ echoing across the city skyline.
The Jordanians are good hosts, with great hospitality extended by the local community as they brush with the fans that have converged from across Australia, Europe and the United Kingdom.
In this nation of over three million people, most of us have already experienced amazing cultural and historical attractions, not to mention the sites.
From our visit to the remote, world heritage-listed “dead city” of Petra to the breathtaking sandstone mountains, cliff tops and valleys with hundreds of carved structures.
Visits to the Dead Sea and Mount Nebo have highlighted the diversity of opportunities and delights in Asia well beyond the game itself.
The build-up to match day has been enhanced by some fine off-the-field initiatives for the enjoyment of travelling fans.
On Saturday, there was a BBQ at the Australian Embassy attended by the Socceroos squad, which enthralled the children of the expat community. That evening we attended a welcome reception for the green and gold supporters with senior Football Federation Australia (FFA) officials.
At Socceroos training on Monday evening the squad looked sharp.
The fans-only session culminated in a marvellous opportunity to spend a little time mixing with players, for autographs, photos and sharing conversations.
The starting line-up looks to be the same as for the Lebanon game, with the exception of Brett Holman returning ahead of Nikita Rukavytsya. There is a quiet confidence across the core fans.
I’m set to join the travelling fans and Green and Gold Army at a pub style pregame meet up at the Queen Victoria bar in downtown Swefieh, before a chartered bus to the stadium.
Temperature around kick off time is expected to be around 25-26 degrees, with comfortable humidity and light winds. With a venue switch to the compact King Abdullah stadium (capacity around 12,000), the surface looks quite good although spongy in the middle pitch areas.
Most locals spoken with expect a Socceroos victory, even if they all expressed hope for their home side to rise up after the thumping by Japan in June.
Let’s hope that we reassert some authority in the group and advance the vision for reaching Brazil.
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck believes veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has a key role to play in their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.