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September 30, 2022
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Pakistan’s path to 2026 World Cup looks treacherous again after AFC confirms format

KARACHI: Unless Pakistan’s national football team — which hasn’t played an international match since the last three years — gets a good run of friendlies and gels quickly, its road to World Cup qualification will once again end at the first stage.

Pakistan, who have never won a World Cup qualifier in their history, last played in June 2019 when they lost to Cambodia in the first round of qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which gets underway in November this year.

Then, Pakistan were ranked among the bottom 12 among Asia’s 48 members, who had to enter in the first stage.

And despite the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico being expanded to 48 teams from 32 — increasing Asia’s slots from 4.5 to 8.5, Pakistan are still likely to start their road to qualification in the first stage.

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