Ahead of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2026, young Pakistani centre-back Syed Abdullah Shah is feeling optimistic about his team’s chances against Cambodia. The upcoming matches will take place on October 12 and 17, with Cambodia hosting the first leg and Pakistan the second.
Despite a previous loss to Cambodia in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, Shah believes Pakistan will be well-prepared for the upcoming match. Before the crucial fixture, Pakistan will face tough opponents in the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 Qualifiers, including matches against Japan, Bahrain, and Palestine. Shah expressed confidence that these matches against stronger opponents will boost their morale before the World Cup qualifier.
Currently, Cambodia holds a higher FIFA ranking at 176, while Pakistan is ranked at 201. The winner of the Pakistan-Cambodia clash will advance to Group G for round two of the qualifiers, alongside Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Tajikistan.
Shah expressed hope that Pakistan’s squad would be complete for the World Cup Qualifier, mentioning the potential inclusion of midfielder Adil Nabi, who plays for Cypriot top-flight side Doxa Katokopias FC, and former Pakistan captain Kaleemullah Khan, who last played for Pakistan in 2020.
Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad is expected to host the home leg against Cambodia after undergoing proper renovations, including improvements to the pitch and floodlights. This will mark Pakistan’s first FIFA/AFC World Cup Qualifier hosted in the country since 2011.
Syed Abdullah Shah also emphasized the advantage of playing on home soil, citing the familiarity with the pitch and the support of the local crowd as motivating factors for the team’s performance.
Shah also praised his teammate Easah Suliman, who switched his national eligibility from England to represent Pakistan. Suliman’s experience and guidance have been valuable for the team’s development.
Pakistan will need to improve its performance in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers to progress further, as the team has lost all eight matches, scoring only one goal since FIFA lifted a 15-month suspension last year. Despite the challenges, Shah and his team are determined to give their best on the field and strive for success in the upcoming qualifiers.