“Although they start as favourites, we have some quality players who can turn things around,” says Pakistan coach
- Pakistan play the second round today against Tajikistan.
- The match will be played at Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad.
- Tajik coach praises Pakistan for showing well in Saudi Arabia.
Islamabad: Pakistan are scheduled to take on Tajikistan in the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers at the Jinnah Stadium on Tuesday with the odds favoring the visitors.
The hosts, who qualified for the second round after beating Cambodia, were beaten 4-0 by Saudi Arabia in their previous match.
Tajikistan are ranked 109th in the FIFA rankings and played out a 1-1 draw against Jordan recently with hopes of picking up three points to move up the Pool G ladder.
“We are looking forward to the three points against Pakistan on Tuesday and hope everything goes according to plan,” said the away team’s coach Peter Segrt.
He claimed that he wanted his team to reach Pakistan at least three to four days earlier, but due to travel issues this was not possible.
“I know it’s always convenient to arrive at least a few days early where you plan to play a World Cup qualifier, but due to travel arrangements, it wasn’t possible for us. However, I think we are in good shape after our game against Jordan to pick up three points from the trip.”
“However, I feel the team played brilliant football against a team rich in experience and exposure. No team in Asia can think of beating Saudi Arabia easily. For newcomers like Pakistan, conceding minimum targets is no less an achievement.”
Pakistan’s aim is to “upset” Tajikistan
Heading into the match against Tajikistan on Tuesday, Shaheens coach Stephen Constantine admitted that the away side will start as favorites as they are more experienced.
“Even Tajikistan’s ranking does not justify the level of football they are playing. They drew against Jordan and were good enough to win a game against higher-ranked teams.”
He hoped to put on a better performance today.
“Our aim would be to upset the team. Although they start as favourites, we have some quality players with us who have the ability to turn things around. With the world behind us, I can’t wait to see players play some of their best football against the Tajikistan team.”
Exposure and experience
Meanwhile, opener Otis Khan who spoke on the occasion highlighted the demands of organizing more matches for Pakistan.
“If you keep playing all year, you can improve. It’s all about exposure and experience. Nobody gave us a chance against Cambodia, but we won. Here again we have to start as underdogs, but I believe we have the ability to upset the tourists.”
He was looking forward to the occasion and promised to make every effort to give his best against a team rich in experience.
Khan also supported the start of a professional league in Pakistan.
“We need a professional league to improve the overall level of the game in Pakistan. If there is no professional league, you cannot guarantee a football future in this country. You also have to start football at a very young age. I started playing football when I was only seven. It’s a continuous effort.”
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