Football was first brought to the Indian subcontinent by British soldiers in the 19th century, but like India, Pakistan has never achieved much in the way of success in the sport. Typically more interested in cricket, the nation are considered footballing lightweights even in South Asia. The qualifying results ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ bear this out.
They finished bottom of their preliminary group with just one point from six matches. Their minus-24 goal difference accurately summed up their difficulties, though they did manage an exciting 3-3 draw with islanders Sri Lanka.
Having again crashed out of the preliminary qualifying stage for 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, with a two-legged loss at the hands of Central Asian side Kyrgyzstan, the Football Association of Pakistan kick-started a rebuilding process of the national team. They appointed Bahraini coach Salman Ahmed Sharida in late 2005 and he laid the foundations for the current Pakistan team.
Under Sharida, the South Asian side made evident progress that saw them almost stun Asia's traditional powerhouses United Arab Emirates in a friendly in late 2006. The game ended 3-2 in UAE's favour but Pakistan showed they were progressing in the right direction.
However, the fact remains that, despite the improvement, Pakistan have yet to make an impact in continental competition. Their lack of pedigree and experience took a toll as Sharida's team failed to progress beyond the qualifying stage for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup finals with six losses in a row
Muhammed Rasheed took over in 2007 with the tough task of leading Pakistan in the qualifying preliminaries for 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Although the recent history doesn't suggest a positive outcome for the team, they can at least draw inspiration from their impressive records in the regional South Asian Games, where they won gold four times.