In a historic moment for Pakistan’s football, the national team secured its first-ever victory in FIFA World Cup qualifiers by defeating Cambodia with a score of 1-0. The decisive goal came from Harun Hamid Khan in the 68th minute of a thrilling match held at the Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad on October 17, 2023.
This momentous win marks a significant milestone for Pakistan in the world of international football. It not only secured their first victory in FIFA World Cup qualifiers but also propelled them into the second round of preliminaries for the 2026 edition of the prestigious tournament.
During the second round of qualifiers, Pakistan will face formidable opponents in Group G, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Tajikistan. This presents a challenging but exciting opportunity for Pakistan to further showcase its football prowess on the global stage.
The road to this historic victory was not without its challenges. The first leg of the tie between Pakistan and Cambodia, which took place last week, ended in a goalless draw in Cambodia. However, the resilience and determination of the Pakistani team shone through in the return match, culminating in their memorable win.
This victory holds a special significance for Pakistan, as it aligns with the return of international football to the country after an eight-year hiatus. Traditionally, Pakistan has been more passionate about cricket, but this triumph marks a turning point for football in the nation.
The last time Pakistan hosted a home game was in February 2015 when they secured a 2-1 victory over Afghanistan in Lahore. In the subsequent two World Cup qualifying campaigns, security concerns and administrative issues within the Pakistan Football Federation led to their home legs being played on neutral grounds.
The first-round qualifier for the 2018 tournament against Yemen had to be relocated to Bahrain due to security concerns in Lahore. Similarly, during the 2022 edition, the home leg of the tie against Cambodia was moved to Doha due to internal turmoil within the Pakistan Football Federation. In that campaign, Cambodia emerged victorious with a 4-1 aggregate score against Pakistan.
Following the historic victory, caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi congratulated both teams and hailed the match as a “victory for football.” He commended the remarkable sportsmanship displayed by both Cambodia and Pakistan and emphasized the universal appeal of football in Pakistan, a sport loved by people from all walks of life.
Solangi also lamented the intrusion of politics into the world of sports, highlighting the need to keep sports free from such influences.
This historic win not only represents a significant sporting achievement for Pakistan but also symbolizes the potential for growth and development of football in the country. As Pakistan advances to the next round of qualifiers, football enthusiasts and fans eagerly anticipate the team’s future performances on the international stage.