The World Cup is about to start and sadly Pakistan is nowhere to be found. According to my research, it has never even made the finals of the Asia Cup. This year in World Cup qualifying, Pakistan were eliminated at the first stage after losing 7-0 on aggregate (7-0 in the first leg) to Iraq.

Instead of worrying about the state of Pakistan football, listening to a podcast hosted by ESPN’s Bill Simmons gave me an idea. Simmons was discussing which American athlete would have made the best football player if he had played it from a young age (my pick – Floyd Mayweather). So, I thought I’d apply this to Pakistani athletes. So, here is The Offside Trap’s Pakistan XI in a 4-4-2 formation.

Goalkeeper: Aisam-ul-Haq Qureishi

The key requirements for  a goalie are height, discipline and agility. A lot of Pakistani fast bowlers have 2 of the 3 qualities, and I don’t think you need my help in figuring out what they lack. Aisam is slightly short at only 6 feet, but with his tennis player’s footwork and diving around the net, I think he could have made a pretty decent keeper. Sohail Abbas and his wrists of steel would also be an option, but I’m not sure about his height.

Right Back: Mohammad Sami

Instead of being Pakistan’s most frustrating fast bowler, Sami could have been a pretty decent footballer. From watching him field, I think he’s clearly the best pure athlete which Pakistani cricket has produced recently. His workrate has also never been questioned, and he would do a good job running up and down the right flank.

Centre Backs: Imran Khan and Waqar Younis

Call me crazy, but this combo reminds me of John Terry and William Gallas. I don’t think Imran had an affair with his teammate’s wife but he has the same leadership genes as Terry. Waqar would be a pit bull – I don’t think any striker would want to play against his mix of strength, speed and aggression.

Left Back: Shoaib Malik

You need some glamour for a football team, so I guess Shoaib Malik makes it. Overall, like his role in the cricket team I see his value as being a utility player who can fill in different positions – right now its the left back where there isn’t a clear contender, so Malik it is.

Central Midfielders: Javed Miandad and Jahangir Khan

Miandad is Mascherano. He would get under the skin of the opposition and no doubt put in a few crunching tackles. Jahangir is Pakistan’s greatest ever athlete and his calling card was his endurance and commitment to fitness. He would be the ideal foil for Miandad with his box to box running.

Right Wing: Shahbaz Senior

Pakistan’s last great hockey player, Shahbaz was an incredible dribbler. It’s a shame that hockey in Pakistan has slowly declined with seemingly no prospect of reviving. However, surely Shahbaz’s skills and trickery would have made him an awesome football player.

Left Wing: Abdul Qadir

This pick is a bit of a stretch but as El Kapitan said to me, you have to think that some of the trickery and deception would be transferable from Cricket to Football. Also, both Qadir and Mushy would have the advantage of using their low centre of gravity to evade defenders.

Strikers: Jansher Khan and Wasim Akram

Think Zlatan, think Berbatov, think Jansher Khan. Whereas Jahangir would grind his opponents down, Jansher was imperious in the way he controlled the centre of the court. Like the two footballers I’ve mentioned, he sometimes seemed slightly laid back, but had incredible skill and flair. If Jansher provides the style, Wasim would provide the power and aggression, not to mention his incredible skill – this one’s a no brainer and also gives a left and right footed partnership.

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