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Friday December 02, 2022

Pakistan can qualify for World Cup in 2030 only if decisions are taken on merit: former skipper

"Even if Pakistan can’t qualify for 2026 World Cup, I’m hopeful that they can make it in 2030 if merit is promoted," Essa Khan says

By Sports Desk
November 19, 2022
Pakistan mens team returned to international arena for the first time in more than three years recently — PFF
Pakistan men's team returned to international arena for the first time in more than three years recently — PFF

KARACHI: Pakistan can qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2030 only if decisions are based on merit, said former Pakistan national football team captain Essa Khan.

Khan, who scored 11 goals in 36 appearances for Pakistan, said: “The World Cup will be increased to 48 teams from 2026 which gives Pakistan a good opportunity to qualify for the event. Even if Pakistan can’t qualify for the 2026 World Cup, I’m hopeful that they can make it in 2030 if merit is promoted and all the stakeholders are on the same page.”

The 38-year-old was also unimpressed with the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee’s decision to play a friendly against Nepal, which the Shaheens lost 1-0.

“Playing a friendly match against Nepal was a waste of money,” he said, adding that the inclusion of diaspora players in the squad also damaged the confidence of local players.

This was Pakistan men's team's first international match in more than three years.

The foreign players which had joined Pakistan’s squad included Hassan Bashir, Adnan Yaqoob, Abdullah Iqbal and Yousuf Butt. All four players currently ply their trade in Denmark’s club football.

FIFA lifts ban on PFF

Pakistan’s return to the international arena was possible after FIFA decided to lift the ban on the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), which was imposed in April 2021 due to undue third-party interference, in June earlier this year.

FIFA also extended the mandate of the Normalisation Committee (NC) by 12 months.

According to FIFA, the mandate of the normalisation committee includes the managing PFF’s daily affairs, ensuring the proper registration and scrutiny of the clubs in Pakistan, draft and ratifying, with the assistance of FIFA and the AFC, an electoral code for the PFF, organise the elections at district followed by provincial levels and conduct the elections of a new PFF executive committee.