Even in Asia, Tajikistan are a little known quantity due to their lack of competitive action. They participated in the past three FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaigns, but they were knocked out without much fuss in the preliminaries. Their biggest achievements in Asia may be a 4-0 win over Uzbekistan in a 1996 Asian Cup qualifier or, perhaps the 5-0 triumph over Turkmenistan in a France 1998 preliminary.
A former Soviet republic, Tajikistan traditionally have had some talented players with good technique. They also have their fair share of passion and skill, but they have never made as much of an impact as some of their West Asian neighbours.
They overcame their initial test in the run-up to Germany 2006, dismissing Bangladesh 2-0 in both the home and away legs of the preliminary round. Their easy advancement was encouraging but in a very competitive group it all proved too much for the outmatched Central Asians as they tumbled from the pack, having lost three of the five remaining games.
Despite missing out on a place in the previous FIFA World cup finals, Tajikistan's football turned over a new leaf in 2006 when they won the AFC Challenge Cup for the first time in history, thrashing Sri Lanka 4-0 in the final. They broke further ground shortly afterwards with the country's junior side qualifying for FIFA U-17 World Cup Korea.
On the back of the international success came their fourth attempt to make progress in the FIFA World Cup, with a two-legged preliminary against Bangladesh on 8 and 28 October. Under coach Sharif Nazarov,the Central Asians got off to a perfect start by eliminating Bangladesh but their qualifying hopes proved short-lived after being edged out 3-1 on aggregate in the second round by Singapore.