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Roberto Mancini ready for tough test as Saudi Arabia face Jordan in World Cup qualifier

Saudi Arabia have a golden chance to open an early lead at the top of Group G of the Asian Qualifiers to the 2026 Fifa World Cup when they take on Jordan on Tuesday in their second game of the group.

Roberto Mancini’s men can take inspiration from their U23 peers who defeated Jordan 2-1 in Al Khobar on Saturday in the international friendly tournament in preparation for the AFC U23 Asian Cup.

The Green Falcons had started the qualification campaign in style, putting four goals past Pakistan at Al Fateh Club Stadium on Thursday, while Jordan and Tajikistan played out a 1-1 draw in Dushanbe, allowing Saudi Arabia to top the group.

The victory, thanks to a brace from Saleh Al Shehri and added time goals from Abdulrahman Ghareeb and Abdullah Radif, sealed a first victory for Mancini since he took charge in September and marked the first win for Saudi Arabia since their 2-1 triumph over Argentina a year earlier in the World Cup Qatar 2022.

With eight Asian teams set to qualify for the expanded edition in US, Canada and Mexico, featuring 48 teams for the first time in World Cup history, there is a growing confidence among Saudi supporters that the three-time Asian champions can make it three consecutive qualifications to the world’s biggest footballing event.

Speaking in the pre-match press conference, manager Mancini refused to get carried away, insisting that all focus should be on winning what could be a tricky away encounter against a Jordan side which ranks 12th among the 47 AFC members in the most recent Fifa rankings.

“We are confident enough and looking forward to the game,” said the Italian. “In football, there are no guarantees, we have to show up, play the best way we can and only then we can think about qualifying.