FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers: Harun Hamid cites Lionel Messi as Pakistan gear up for Saudi Arabia game – Football International


Lionel Messi (L) and Harun Hamid (R). – AFP/PFF

Pakistan’s star midfielder Harun Hamid has opened up ahead of his side’s clash against Saudi Arabia during the FIFA World Cup 2026 Asian Qualifiers in Al-Ahsa on Thursday.

Hamid scored the winning goal for Pakistan against Cambodia in Islamabad last month to help the Shaheens register their first-ever win in World Cup qualifiers.

“I was just filled with adrenaline and had to hit the knee slide in front of the fans,” London-born midfielder Hamid told BBC Asian Network.

Pakistan, ranked 193 in the world, face a tough challenge in the shape of Saudi Arabia, ranked 57, who are only team to beat World Cup winners Argentina at last winter’s tournament.

“We’re playing against the team that beat Messi’s Argentina and we don’t even have a pro league,” Hamid said.

Hamid also said that it was a dream come true for him to represent the Pakistan national football team.

“Growing up I didn’t even know Pakistan had a team if I’m honest, so I never thought I’d be playing for them one day,” he said.

“But the opportunity came and to play on the world stage in front of huge crowds is a dream come true.

“Hopefully after the win, more young boys like me will consider playing for Pakistan.”

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia last played against each other in 1978 in a game at the latter’s backyard which the Shaheens lost 6-0.

Jordan and Tajikistan are the other teams in Pakistan’s group. These four teams will play against each other on home and away basis and then the top two nations will progress to the third round while the bottom two teams will move into the third round of the 2027 Asian Cup Qualifiers. Being a host country of the 2027 Asian Cup, Saudi Arabia have already qualified for the continent’s major showpiece.

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