Millions of people around the world tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cup Qualifying Round match between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, played in the city of Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia Thursday evening, November 16.
Football in Pakistan has long been marred by controversy, and even today, a committee set up by FIFA called the Normalization Committee is overseeing the affairs of football in the country.
Personally, I believe the committee’s primary objective was to conduct clean, transparent, and impartial elections in Pakistan. About which the committee president, HaroonAhmed Malik, argues that a lot of time is required to steer Pakistani football in the right direction.
While on the one hand, there are preparations for the election, which are not ending; however, on the other hand, Pakistan’s football team is not only participating in international competitions, but apart from the men, the women’s team has also participated in several important tournaments.
The debate surrounding the Normalization Committee’s role in running football affairs in Pakistan can be extensive. However, setting aside these considerations and entering the realm of reality, a surprising scenario unfolds.
The entire world has come to know through social media that Pakistan’s national football team, ranked close to a double century in the world rankings, is performing incredibly today in the presence of talented players.
When the national football team played one of the two matches against Cambodia in the first stage of the Asian qualifying round, both teams could not score any goals. However, in the second match, Pakistan defeated Cambodia by one goal, advancing to the second stage of the World Cup qualifying round. After a long time, Pakistan’s entry into the second phase was undoubtedly remarkable.
With this remarkable display of the game, two undeniable impressions emerge. One impression is that if football affairs in Pakistan were in the hands of local administrators, no consideration would be given to merit, and perhaps these two things would have led Pakistan to reach the second stage of the World Cup qualifying round against Cambodia.
After the success, in the second phase, Pakistan has to play three matches against three teams in Pakistan and three matches in their own countries. One of which was played in Saudi Arabia on November 16, and this match, despite the defeat of Pakistan, gave Pakistani players a boost. The way Pakistan was defeated in the Cricket World Cup just a few days ago, and the reaction was completely different because there has been a lot of upheaval in cricket, especially the captain has been removed from his post.
But in football against Saudi Arabia, no one can believe that despite losing by a margin of four goals, Pakistan’s football team is being admired all over the world.
In this match, first, there was heavy rain, and then Pakistani players played a great game. Till the interval, Pakistan was facing a one-goal deficit, which can be considered a great success against the Saudi team. It was the same Saudi team that defeated the Argentine team in the World Cup.
In the second half, when the score of Saudi Arabia was two-zero, it was believed that Pakistan would limit Saudi Arabia to this score. However, in the last minute, Saudi Arabia scored two additional goals, resulting in a four-zero victory.
The most gratifying thing is that the football fans inside Pakistan and around the world, despite this score, the performance of the national team has been much better than anticipated.
Looking ahead, Pakistan is scheduled to play matches against Tajikistan and Jordan. Regardless of the results, it is evident that football in Pakistan has received a renewed lease on life. Now, as elections loom, there is a pressing need to promote high-quality football games in Pakistan.
As a critic, I seek answers to various questions. However, I express appreciation for the contributions of players, coaches, and officials of the Normalization Committee, hopeful that the national team will continue to elevate the name of Pakistan in the future.
Credit: AIPS Media