Pakistan suffered a heavy defeat to Tajikistan in World Cup qualifiers.
Pakistan’s lack of possession and defensive lapses led to a lopsided scoreline.
Coach Constantine faces a significant challenge to turn around Pakistan’s World Cup campaign.
Pakistan’s hopes of progressing to the next round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers suffered a significant blow as they were thrashed 6-1 by Tajikistan at the Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad on Tuesday. The defeat exposed several glaring weaknesses in Pakistan’s performance, raising concerns about their ability to compete in this competitive group.
Inability to Retain Possession
A major issue for Pakistan was their inability to keep possession of the ball. They managed a mere 29% possession throughout the match, highlighting their struggles to control the tempo and dictate terms. This lack of control allowed Tajikistan to dictate the flow of the game and create numerous scoring opportunities.
Pakistan’s defensive frailties were also laid bare, as four of the six goals they conceded came from long-range efforts. Tajikistan capitalized on Pakistan’s disorganization and poor positioning, exploiting the gaps in their defensive lines with ease. The midfield’s inability to press effectively and cover spaces left Pakistan vulnerable to Tajikistan’s attacks.
Missing Players and Fitness Concerns
The absence of key players further compounded Pakistan’s woes. Captain Easah Suliman, ruled out due to injury, and Shayak Dost, a reliable right-winger, were sorely missed, leaving Pakistan without their leadership and attacking prowess. Additionally, the suspension of starting right-back Rao Umar Hayat forced Mohib Ullah into the role, and he struggled to contain Tajikistan’s formidable attacks.
Coach Constantine Faces Uphill Task
With their next match against Jordan scheduled for March 21, 2024, head coach Stephen Constantine faces a daunting task of rectifying Pakistan’s shortcomings and reviving their World Cup aspirations. He will need to address the team’s fitness concerns, improve their tactical approach, and instill a sense of discipline and organization to salvage their campaign.
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