“Though they start favourite, yet we have some quality players who can turn things around,” says Pakistan coach
- Pakistan play second round match today against Tajikistan.
- Match will be played at Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium.
- Tajik coach praises Pakistan for good show in Saudi Arabia.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan are scheduled to face Tajikistan in the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification at the Jinnah Stadium on Tuesday with odds favouring the visitors.
The hosts, who qualified for the second round after beating Cambodia, suffered a 4-0 defeat against Saudi Arabia in their previous match.
Tajikistan are ranked 109 on the FIFA list and played a 1-1 draw recently against Jordan with hopes of gaining three points to move up on the Pool G ladder.
“We are eagerly waiting for three points against Pakistan on Tuesday and are hopeful that everything will go according to laid down plan,” said visiting team head coach Peter Segrt.
He claimed that he wanted his team to arrive in Pakistan at least three to four days earlier but due to travelling problems that was not possible.
“I know it is always handy to arrive at least a few days in advance where you are planning to play a World Cup qualifying match but due to travelling arrangements, it was not possible for us. Yet, I believe we are in good shape following our match against Jordan to collect three points from the outing.”
“Yet I feel the team played brilliant soccer 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 goals is no less of an achievement.”
Pakistan’s target is to ‘upset’ Tajikistan
In the match against Tajikistan on Tuesday, Shaheens’ head coach Stephen Constantine admitted that the visiting team would start favourites as they are more experienced.
“Even Tajikistan’s ranking does not justify the standard of football they play. They played a draw against Jordan and were good enough to win a match against higher-ranked teams.”
He hoped to put up a better show today.
“Our target would be to upset the team. Though they start favourite, yet we have some quality players with us who have the ability to turn things around. With the crowd at our back, I am looking forward to seeing players playing some of the finest soccer against the Tajikistan team.”
Exposure and experience
Meanwhile, key player Otis Khan who spoke on the occasion stressed the requirements of organising more matches for Pakistan.
“If you keep on playing throughout the year, you can improve. It is all about exposure and experience. No one gave us a chance against Cambodia, yet we won. Here again we are to start as underdogs, yet I believe we have the capacity to upset the tourists.”
He looked forward to the occasion and vowed to make all-out efforts to put up his best against a team rich in experience.
Khan also supported the launch of a professional league in Pakistan.
“We need a professional league to improve the overall standard of the game in Pakistan. If there is no professional league, you cannot guarantee a football future in that country. You also need to start football at a very young age. I started playing soccer when I was only seven. It is a continuous effort.”