October 18 – Pakistan claimed their first-ever World Cup qualification success with a 1-0 victory against Cambodia to progress to the second round of the AFC 2026 World Cup qualification process.
In Islamabad, Harun Hamid Khan’s 68th-minute goal proved to be the difference between the two teams after a goalless draw in the first leg in Phnom Penh last week.
It was a remarkable result for the hosts for a panoply of reasons: Pakistan had never won a match in World Cup qualifying, they last played a match at home in February 2015, against Afghanistan, and they will for the first time participate in the second round of Asian World Cup qualifying, guaranteeing the team will keep playing international football.
Their two previous World Cup qualification matches at home had to be shifted to Bahrain and Qatar because of security concerns and infighting in the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).
Weeks ago, the PFF appointed Englishman Stephen Constantine, who has had two coaching spells with India, as the national team’s head coach.
In the run-up to the doubleheader, Constantine lamented the facilities at his disposal, but ultimately his team prevailed over Cambodia. The PFF, led by a normalisation committee, will need to renew Constantine’s short-term contract if they want to keep him on board.
In the second round of qualification, Pakistan will face Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tajikistan in Group G.
Nine other nations qualified for the first group stage of 2026 World Cup qualifying: Afghanistan, Myanmar, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Yemen, Nepal and Bangladesh.
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