The preliminary phase of the Asian Qualifiers will have 12 countries in the field and marks the beginning of the journey towards 2022. Timor Leste will play against Malaysia on June 7 and June 11, 2019.

The race for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar begins next Thursday, far from the luxurious conditions of the Middle East, without the stars of the great European clubs and far from the great presence of fans. The start of the World Cup qualifier will begin in the Asian qualifiers, with the Mongolian match against Brunei.

The Mongolian capital Ulan Bator and the cramped stadium with capacity for 5,000 people and synthetic grass will receive the first match between candidates for one in the next World Cup. The preliminary phase of the Asian Qualifiers brings together the 12 countries of the continent with the lowest ranking in FIFA. In this stage, round-robin encounters define six teams that advance to the next phase, when the other local teams will enter the dispute.

The preliminary phase is also vague for the Asian Cup of 2023, as well as the opportunity for countries without tradition to experience what it’s like to dream of participating in a World Cup. The tiny island of Guam, which belongs to the United States, is one of the candidates, as is Sri Lanka, the Asian country with the worst results, and Laos, one of the few countries in the world with communist rule.

The participants’ scenario also includes the Portuguese language. Two former colonies of Portugal, Timor-Leste, and Macau, will try to advance to the second phase. In Pakistan, one of the weapons is the Brazilian command in the technical commission. Coach José Antônio Nogueira has been with the team since last year and works alongside trainer Beto Portella and goalkeeper coach Marcelo Schroeder.

“In Pakistan, the challenge is to change the internal culture of the country, the first sport is cricket, football may be in second place, it is already possible to see children starting to wear shirts from Brazil and European teams,” Nogueira told the state . The Pakistani have the challenge at the premiere of Cambodia, away from home (at 8 am, Brasília). The return game will be held in Qatar, which has offered to host the meeting.

A large part of the Pakistani team is active in the country itself. Local football has few foreign players and has a professional league only 15 years ago. “The Pakistani player has no experience or activity as strong as other players, but he has a quality that needs to be worked on. Half of my cast is already out of the country, so it’s very diverse,” said Nogueira.

In January, Atletico Madrid opened a soccer academy in the eastern city of Lahore with Spanish coaches to seek to develop local talent. The opponents in the first phase, Cambodia, have as main star the coach. Former Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda, who played for Milan, is responsible for setting up the team.

New Calendar

With the World Cup scheduled for the months of November and December 2022, the qualifiers will begin later. Except for Europe and Africa, all other continents will only set all the qualifiers at the beginning of 2022, about eight months before the start of the tournament. After Asia begins to define vacancies, this year the dispute will begin in Oceania and Africa.

First round games of the Qualifiers for the Cup of 2022

  • Mongolia x Brunei
  • Bhutan vs. Guam
  • Laos x Bangladesh
  • Cambodia x Pakistan
  • Macau x Sri Lanka
  • Malaysia vs Timor Leste

Three questions for… José Antônio Nogueira, Pakistan national team coach

What is the style of the Pakistani national team?

We changed the style a lot. It was a very slow game, just balls thrown from defense to attack, with direct link. He had no work in the midfield, no intelligence organization in the game. They were only raised balls to propose physical gain between attacker and defender, without work in the midfield. That was how the game was played both in the selection and in the national championship teams.

Have the political problems of the region already ruined your work?

There was a situation in Kashmir where we were not able to participate in qualifying matches for a championship in 2020, which will be in Thailand. The disputed territory between India and Pakistan in that region made the air space blocked and we were left with no way out for the days of game, like our trip to the training.

How far can Pakistan go in the qualifiers?

Our selection is still crawling. Our project is to go through Cambodia and reach the next stage, the group stage. It never happened to get there. Now we are trying to win from Cambodia to have more strength and balance, as well as having a better placement in the FIFA ranking.