Across the Arab world, women’s football is starting to be taken seriously.
A lot will depend on whether Jordan can reproduce their form of the past couple of years against West Asia’s teams when it really matters against the continent’s stronger nations.
But the tournament is about more than goals and results.
At the turn of the century, women’s football across the Arab world barely existed in any meaningful sense.
That is not surprising, for a host of sociopolitical, cultural, sporting and logistical reasons.
We live in a different landscape now. Jordan continues to blaze a trail for Arab women’s teams. In 2016, the country hosted the U17 women’s World Cup, which was won by North Korea. Jordan were knocked out after losing to Spain, Mexico and New Zealand.
Yet the 16-team tournament was Jordan’s first FIFA-sanctioned competition and empowerment has come from high places.
“To have young girls playing sports, and playing football specifically, can do so much to change attitudes and perceptions as to how society perceives women,” said Jordan’s Queen Rania.
“If a Jordanian woman wants to play football, I say ‘go for it.’ Because you are a role model for society, for changing traditional
TRAILBLAZER: Maysa Jbarah (L) of Jordan tussles for the ball with Vietnam opponent Nguyen Thi Nga during the AFC Women’s Asian Cup tournament in 2014. (AFP)