Can Pakistan qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018?

As the big day for the match against Yemen closes in, our dream for a successful football team may finally come true.

Hamza Babar March 11, 2015
Over the past few of years, we, the supporters of Pakistan’s football team, have constantly dreamt of seeing our nation succeed in the football arena.

This dream of ours has been shattered many times, mostly due to poor team selection. But now, as the big day for the match against Yemen closes in, I think we are finally on our way to pursue our dream.

Pakistan will play against Yemen in a two legged FIFA World Cup pre-qualifying round. The game will be played on March 12, 2015, in Doha, Qatar and the return fixture will be played five days later in the Punjab Stadium in Lahore on March 17.

The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has announced its provisional 25-men squad. There were some notable omissions but today my purpose is not to criticise or to blame. I am writing for the mere purpose of appreciation.

With the first leg to be played tomorrow, the last thing our team needs is criticism.

Talking about those who were not selected at this critical time before the match may lower the morale of those who are all set to fight for their country on the biggest stage. Therefore, I request every fan, friend, sportsperson and PFF official to cherish what we already have and prepare ourselves for the match in Lahore.

The team

We have Zeshan Rehman and Nabil Aslam – who are powerhouses of football talent. Imagine what these players can do, as defenders, with enormous European experience. With Muhammad AhmadMuhammad Bilal and Ahsanullah added to the defensive options, our back four look quite solid.

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Up front we have Kaleemullah and Atif Bashir, who can be a deadly duo if linked properly. Muhammad Adil has returned to the team while Saddam Hussain has also just joined, both of whom have been playing together for the past three years, both home and aboard. This gives us a formidable offence.

Photo: AFP

Adding Saadullah, Mehmood Khan and others to the midfield will prove to be a great combination, no matter who gets picked to start the match. I am sure that Saqib Hanif or even Muzammil Hussain won’t allow us to miss Yousuf Butt.

So the stage is finally set for the team, who have waited patiently, 10 years to be precise, to bag a first home victory. In less than a year, we have beaten India on their home ground and also had an unbelievable win over Afghanistan last month. So there is no reason to believe why we won't win this match either.

Photo: AFP

Yes, in between, we suffered an unfortunate loss to Palestine at home, conceding two goals in the last two minutes including stoppage time, but a loss after two huge wins is not a bad score to keep.

Photo: AFP

We have an amazing squad and the fact that the second leg of the tournament is being held in Pakistan gives our team a slight edge.

International games rarely take place in our country. So dear readers and football fans, I take this as an opportunity to invite you all to come and watch our national football team play against Yemen on the March 17, 2015, (Tuesday) at the Punjab Stadium, Lahore.

This is the time to cheer for your team!

I have been there to watch recent matches and I will be there again.

#BackTheGreens #ComeOnPakShaheens
Hamza Babar
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

Facebook Conversations


numan | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend timing???????
Maximus Decimus Meridius | 5 years ago | Reply | Recommend all the best to the team, but you must realise that soccer is not like cricket. You can't just have an "upset" unless the opposing team plays ridiculously bad. I have seen good sides keep possession for upto 75% of the game. So all the best to our teamgreen, but its gonna be real tough.
MUHAMMAD HAMZA | 5 years ago True That. Easier Said Than Done. Although According To The Latest Fifa Ranking Pakistan May Be Sitting 5 Places Above Yemen At 170 But No Opposition Should Be Taken Lightly. 2 Things Are In Our Favor: One Is That Yemen Haven't Won In Their Last 10 Matches & Second That Return Leg Will Be In Pakistan.
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