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2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Pakistan Vs Tajikistan Likely Playing XI and Opposition Analysis

Pakistan vs Tajikistan in the last match of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Group G is set to be played at the Dushanbe Stadium.

The Shaheens were in danger of forfeiting this match until the government intervened at the 11th hour and arranged a private flight courtesy of the Pakistan Airforce (PAF).

The Pakistan vs Tajikistan is set to go ahead as scheduled. Following the fiasco of the flight delays and the failed attempt by the chartered flights to help the Pakistan football team reach their destination on time.

Opposition Analysis

Most of the players in Tajikistan play for Istiklol Football Club which is probably the best club in their country while their centre-back Vakhdat Khananov plays for Persepolis FC in Iran.

Their central midfielder Umarbaev who ran the show in the midfield against Pakistan, back in November, plays for Bulgarian club CSKA 1948 Sofia.

Their forward Rustam Soirov recently scored a goal against Saud Arabi in March FIFA World Cup qualifier matches. Seven players of the playing XI against Jordan play for the same club, Istiklol FC.

Meanwhile, their right-back Safarov and centre-back Dzhuraboev play in one of the most competitive leagues in Central Asia, in Uzbekistan.

Against Saudi Arabia during their 1-1 draw in March, Tajikistan attempted 11 crosses in that game with 73 long balls which means that they are a physical team that tries to utilize long balls over the top in half-spaces as well as wider spaces.

In the quarterfinal against Jordan, Tajikistan attempted 55 long balls with 16 crosses. The graphic below will show how Tajikistan tries to penetrate the defence of the opposition.


The utilization of the wider spaces is pretty evident from these graphics and whenever Tajikistan cannot find a way to penetrate through the middle they attempt the “route 1 football”.

In all the big matches one thing is evident, Tajikistan tries to attack with a front 4 which can have two formational shapes, 4-2-4 or a 4-2-3-1 depending on the weaknesses of the opposition.

Tajikistan’s fullbacks try to stretch the opposition and provide the width on the pitch that the team needs, while their wingers are inverted and drift into the half-spaces while cutting in most of the time.


Gela Shakiladze’s side can form a box midfield with a four-man midfield considering their left-winger often tucks inside in the half-space. They had 42% control with the ball against Saudi Arabia in the middle of the third while their possession control was 51% against Jordan in the AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal in the same region.

Four-man midfield with inverted wingers in half-spaces and a double-pivot can suffocate the likes of Rahis Nabi, Alamgir Ghazi, and Umair Ali if Stephen Constantine opts to play with a 5-3-2 once again.

Pakistan’s Likely XI

Otis Khan will not be available due to an ankle injury. And so with the return of Alamgir Ghazi it is highly unlikely that Constantine will stick to a midfield three once more.

The back four can shape up with Rao Umer Hayat, Mohammad Fazal, Abdullah Iqbal, Mohammad Saddam Junior, or Waqar Baloch.

The midfielders can comprise a double-pivot once again with Alamgir Ghazi and Rahis Nabi. Shayek Dost is expected on the right wing. On the right wing, it is hard to predict who will play with  Moin Ahmed Jr and Imran Kayani the likely two options.

Up top, he can go with two strikers once again. Mckeal Abdullah and Adeel Younas are expected to start up front this time around.

Likely XI

Yousuf Butt (GK)
Rao Umer Hayat (RB)
Abdullah Iqbal (CB)
Waqar Baloch (CB)
Mohammad Fazal (LB)
Alamgir Ghazi (CM)
Rahis Nabi (CM)
Shayek Dost (RW)
Imran Kayani (LW)
Mckeal Abdullah (ST)
Adeel Younas (ST)


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