Stephen says Jordan game difficult ‘but will fight’ [The News]

Stephen says Jordan game difficult ‘but will fight’ [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

LAHORE: Admitting that with “very little preparation” they are will face Asia’s strong team Jordan in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers second round game on March 21 at Islamabad, Pakistan football team English coach Stephen Constantine on Saturday said that they would just go to the game and fight.

“It’s difficult obviously,” Stephen told reporters just before the start of a training session here at the Model Town Football Ground.

“We were supposed to hold camp in January but that did not materialize. We were not able to play any friendly game. Unfortunately, we are going to face one of the best teams in Asia with very little preparation so we are working on the things on which we can work.

I cannot control those things so we will just go to the game and we will fight and let’s see what happens,” Stephen said.

Pakistan’s homegrown players have been training here under Stephen for the last few days with overseas players joining them in the next two days before tackling Jordan on March 21 at the Jinnah Stadium Islamabad. The match will begin at 2pm. Pakistan will then face Jordan on March 26 at the latter’s backyard.

Pakistan have played two games in their second round Group G, losing both. They went down to Saudi Arabia 4-0 in Al-Ahsa before going 6-1 down to Tajikistan in Islamabad. Both these matches were held in November.

After the game against Tajikistan players went to their homes as Pakistan is missing national league for the last few years.

After almost three and a half months a few days ago homegrown players were called for training with the show against Asian Cup runners-up Jordan looming.

Asked if late joining of diaspora players will create any problem in manufacturing combination Stephen said the overseas players should be here by Sunday or Monday.

“I believe so we will have six to seven of them. We have to see the conditions when they come in as they are playing games and are doing training and we don’t know whether they are free from injury so we will find it out and again this is a problem for us but we will face each problem,” Stephen said.

Asked if there was any specific strategy to beat Jordan Stephen said with a smile “to beat them or stop them”.

“Look, I said from the beginning and I am not saying this to downplay things but we are not going to the World Cup,” Stephen said.

“Not this World Cup but may be not the next World Cup. I object for this that to find the team and prepare for the Asian Cup Qualifiers, the SAFF Cup and I think by end of these World Cup Qualifiers we will have a good idea of the players that can help us and some players who will not be going to help us they will not be with the team. But this is the idea,” Stephen said.

“We will compete, we will fight. Going to lay down for anybody if you play top teams of Asia and if you look at our group we have Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Jordan with decent Asian Cup history and we could not have a more difficult group. The thing is that you need to prepare for the World Cup Qualifiers and Asian Cup Qualifiers. At the moment we are not ready for these types of events,” Stephen said.

Published in The News, 17 March 2024