Odds against Pakistan as yet another stiff challenge awaits hosts [The News]

Odds against Pakistan as yet another stiff challenge awaits hosts [The News]

by Abdul Mohi Shah

ISLAMABAD: After a 1-0 win at home against Cambodia in the World Cup Soccer Qualifying round match, Pakistan soccer team is facing yet another stiff target against Tajikistan here at the Jinnah Stadium on Tuesday with odds favouring the visiting team more due to their experience and international exposure.

Ranked 109 on the FIFA list, Tajikistan has played 1-1 draw against Jordan just recently as visiting team head coach Peter Segrt who talked to the media in Islamabad Monday believed in gaining three points against Pakistan on Tuesday 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,” Segrt, who previously coached the Croatian team, said.

He claimed that he wanted his team to arrive in Pakistan at least three to four days earlier but due to traveling 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 traveling 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.”

In the match against Tajikistan on Tuesday, the team head coach admitted that the visiting team would start favourite 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.”

Team head coach hoped to put up a better show against Tajikistan team. “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 the 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.”

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.” “I am looking forward to the occasion and will make all-out efforts to put up my best against a team rich in experience.”

He 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.”

Published in The News, 21 November 2023