Can Pakistan qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018?
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.
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 Ahmad, Muhammad Bilal and Ahsanullah added to the defensive options, our back four look quite solid.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.