Pakistan men’s football team suffered a massive loss to Tajikistan in the 2nd round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers today. Pakistan were playing in their home ground Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad but had to suffer a 6-1 loss at the hands of the 109th-ranked FIFA side.
Pakistan missed their first-choice right-back Omer Hayat and midfielder Shayak Dost, as both were suspended from this match due to receiving two yellow cards in previous games. Debutant Mohib Afridi had a horrible game playing at right-back. At the same time, the combination of Otis Khan, Imran Kayani, and Abdul Samad on the left side of the pitch couldn’t provide the defending impetus given by Dost.
Pakistan were poor in the defensive midfield, which reminds us of the delay the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is facing in trying to call Etzaz Hussain to the national side. Hussain is a 4-time Eliteserian (Norway 1st-tier league) winner. He won it while playing for Molde (Erling Haaland’s ex-club); currently, he plays for Apollon Limassol (Cyprus’s 1st-tier team).
Seeing Mohib Afridi’s performance today has raised many eyebrows as to why center-back Abdullah Shah wasn’t picked in the 24-man squad for the two World Cup qualifying matches. Pakistan head coach Stephen Constantine has a lot of thinking to do before he selects the next squad for the training camp when Pakistan will face Jordan home and away in March 2024.
Pakistan’s defense will be boosted by the presence of Easah Suliman for the next international window. Hopefully, he’ll recover in the upcoming weeks and start playing in the Azerbaijan League again. Suliman is the national side’s captain, and his absence was severely felt in the two matches.