Tajikistan have been involved in Asia's qualifying campaigns for each of the past five FIFA World Cups™. Although the central Asians have yet to progress to the final qualifying stage, they came close to springing a surprise in their debut competition on the road to France 1998 when they narrowly finished behind group winners China.
Istiqlol is the biggest provider for the national team, with over half of the current squad hailing from the reigning Tajik champions. Notable among them is 39-year-old goalkeeper and captain Alisher Tuychiev, who provides plenty of experience. Driving the midfield is Sokhib Suvonkulov while the goalscoring responsibility rests on the shoulders of Dilshod Vasiev, who found the net 27 times as Istiqlol won league and cup double last season.
Mukhsin Mukhamadiev, 48, enjoys iconic status in Tajikistan on the back of an illustrious playing career. Born in Dushanbe, the former striker joined the capital side Pomir Dushanbe as a teenager before moving to Uzbekistan's Pahktakor. He has been coaching the national side since 2013.
12 - The number of matches Tajikistan have won during their past five qualifying attempts.
The former stars
Numonjon Hakimov, Yusuf Rabiev, Pirmurod Burkhanov