Pakistan considering to play home leg of FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Saudi Arabia [Geo Super]

Pakistan considering to play home leg of FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Saudi Arabia [Geo Super]

by Faizan Lakhani

KARACHI: Saudi Arabia is being considered by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee for the home leg of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier round one against Cambodia.

In the first round of the qualifiers, Pakistan will travel to Cambodia for the first leg on October 12. Meanwhile, the second leg will be hosted by Pakistan on October 17.

The PFF NC have already made contacts with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation to host Cambodia in the return leg in the Gulf country.

The federation is also considering training the Pakistan football team in Saudi by making them play against the local clubs of the country.

However, no reply has been given by the Saudi authorities regarding Pakistan’s request of hosting Cambodia.

Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium and Lahore’s Punjab Stadium were among the options for the Qualifier but both don’t meet FIFA regulations at the moment. Pitch, floodlights and availability of rooms at the venues is a major concerns for the PFF.

It must be noted that the dressing room, medical room, technical officials’ room and broadcasters’ room are among the requirements laid down by FIFA at a venue.

Sources added that hosting the match at home will be difficult for Pakistan unless the stadiums are upgraded.

The PFF NC will need to submit the final venue with FIFA by August 18.

Pakistan last hosted a FIFA/AFC World Cup Qualifier in 2011, when Bangladesh played at the Punjab Stadium.

According to current FIFA Rankings, Cambodia are ranked 176 meanwhile Pakistan are in 201.

The winner of the Pakistan-Cambodia clash will join Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Tajikistan in Group G for round two of the qualifiers.

Published in Geo Super, 7 August 2023