Pakistan football team
.Ahmed says, “I had mixed emotions because this was my first match for Pakistan.” Finally representing the country was a bitter experience, but the result didn’t match what we wanted. Many of us had never played together before, so we were still getting to know each other, and it was truly a daunting dream for Pakistan Football Team.
“Until the second stage, we had gained more understanding, and we succeeded in keeping a 0-0 draw against the team that had just won the Asian Cup. This was Pakistan’s first-ever draw in the World Cup Qualifiers. So, even though we didn’t have much to show, it was an important step.”
A bitter conflict of power that has plagued football in Pakistan, meaning it was the last time the country played a World Cup Qualifier on home soil. But the team ended their 12-match losing streak in the first stage with a 0-0 draw against Cambodia, under the leadership of their new manager, Stephen Constantine. They hope to make history in the next qualifying round, consisting of two more groups.
Adnan Ahmed, along with Nethan Ellington, a former Wigan and West Brom striker who won 27 caps, runs the One-Stop Sports Management Agency. “It’s in their grasp, so hopefully they can keep their nerves in a high-pressure situation,” says Ahmed. “If they can take one step forward, it will be a remarkable achievement for the country.”\https://parkdailynews.com/from-expansion-to-excellence-the-dallas-cowboys-journey-to-nfl-dominance/
A crisis within the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) in 2015 had suspended domestic leagues, and a few weeks later, Pakistan lost a friendly match to Afghanistan. It marked their last home match for more than eight years, even though a normalization committee was established in 2019, and they fell to the lowest 205th position in FIFA rankings after two defeats against Cambodia. They had not played a friendly match until last November against Nepal.
Ahmed says, “There are disputes between governing factions, and if you ask me, they have ruined the entire nation.” He regrets local players because their livelihood depends on the sport. It’s more than just a word for some of them. It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happened. Things have really gone downhill in recent years, but the only positive is that this team may be picking up some speed behind the scenes.
Ali Asghar, a journalist from FootballPakistan.com, says, “Football is poorly developed, and there aren’t many opportunities for young players at the grassroots level. It’s not a professional job for the players, and it’s all down to the poor state of the Pakistan Football Federation because they’ve been ruined for over eight years. It’s almost a lost decade.”
Ahmed and Constantine are part of an independent assessment group consisting of former players and officials, preparing a 15 to 30-year plan for Pakistan football. “It can’t be achieved overnight – we need to build the fundamental infrastructure and work on it,” they say. “The whole point of the project is to figure out how we can get maximum participation at the grassroots level and provide coaching and facilities. It’s a matter of how you implement the project practically.”
Constantine’s appointment, a London resident who managed India twice on the world stage, is banking on the support of millions to change things. He’s inherited a squad from various age groups through the English FA’s youth system and is now equipped with a defense that impressed with a resilient 0-0 draw in Cambodia. Constantine’s future now depends on whether they can secure a place in the first-round group, where they’ll face Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Tajikistan.
Asghar says, “Constantine has a list of over 50 players of different ages from clubs all over the UK who could play for Pakistan one day.” They say they’re 10 or 11 years behind but are eager. They need support.
The possibility of Pakistan facing Cambodia again without Warm-up winger Owais Khan remains as FIFA ruled him ineligible just hours before the first stage. The dispute is whether they are eligible through their grandfather – born in Delhi but left for Pakistan in 1947 before settling in Manchester.
Ahmed believes that players like Suleman, who was born in Birmingham, went through the youth system at East End, and now plays with Singularity in Azerbaijan, and Khan, a South Asian player, can inspire the next generation. “There are many academies in the UK, but there’s still a missing piece that is absent,” they say. “Pakistan needs players like Iza and Owais because they can play a crucial role for the future. The rest of the squad needs a strong backbone for the next generation. Hopefully, Owais can play his part in the future.”