KARACHI: After a gap of more than three years, Pakistan football team is set to kick off its activities next month with eye on a spot in 2026 Football World Cup.
Currently ranked 201 in FIFA ranking, Pakistan football team is set to play in next month’s Asian Games, where it will compete with top teams of the region.
According to draws announced by AFC on Thursday, Pakistan is placed in group D for the Asian Games football event, which will be played in Indonesia from August 15.
Pakistan will face Japan, the team that recently played in FIFA World Cup, Vietnam – team ranked 100 places better than Pakistan and South Asian counterpart Nepal.
Pakistan will face Japan, Vietnam and South Asian counterpart Nepal. Japan recently played in FIFA World Cup, whereas Vietnam is ranked a hundred spots above Pakistan.
This will be the U-23 tournament in which teams are allowed to field three over 23 players.
Asian Games will be Pakistan’s first football appearance after more than three years. The country last played Football World Cup pre-qualifiers against Yemen in March 2015, after which a fight broke out between the two factions that led to FIFA suspension of PFF.
The suspension kept Pakistan team away from action.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Football Federation has termed the development a fresh start and aimed for a spot in 2026 Football World Cup.
“Almost three and a half years back at the time when PFF was forced to abandon the activities for next 3 long years; we were easily beating teams like Afghanistan and India. All those efforts that were initiated by PFF to raise the standard of the game went down the drain,” said Faisal Saleh Hayat, president of Pakistan Football Federation.
“Now the PFF has taken a fresh start, there is a possibility to see Pakistan among the 48 teams, which would compete in the world cup in the eight years’ time,” he told Geo.tv.
Hayat added that if government and the nation stood behind football, it was very much possible that Pakistan participate in the FIFA World Cup 2026 to be held in USA, Canada and Mexico, which would see a record number of 48 teams including 10 from Asia.