Pakistan Women’s Football Team made history by securing their first-ever competitive victory in a match against Tajikistan during the AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers. Zahmena Malik’s goal helped Pakistan win the game 1-0, making it a significant moment for Pakistani women’s football.
Pakistan finished third in Group E during the qualifiers for the Paris Olympics 2024. Despite losing their first match against the Philippines 4-0 and going down against Hong Kong 2-0 in their second encounter, the team was able to secure a win in their third and final match.
The absence of star striker Nadia Khan, who was ruled out of the tournament due to an ACL injury, was a significant blow to the team. Additionally, captain Maria Khan missed the second and third matches of the group stage due to an injury.
The 22-member national team and coaching staff arrived in Tajikistan on April 2, after a brief training camp and matches against local clubs in Dubai. A total of 26 teams were divided into seven groups for the first round of qualifying.
Winners of each group in this round will advance to the second round, where they will be joined by the five highest-seeded teams, DPR Korea, Japan, Australia, China PR, and Korea Republic. Four teams from the second round, including three group winners and the best-ranked runners-up, will face off in the third round. They will play two pairs of home and away matches, with the two eventual winners qualifying for the Women’s Olympic football tournament in Paris in 2024.
Earlier this year in January, Pakistan finished second in the four-nation cup in Saudi Arabia. They won their opening match against Comoros 1-0 but suffered defeat in their second encounter against Mauritius 2-1. Their final match against the host nation, Saudi Arabia, ended in a 1-1 draw.
During the match against Tajikistan, Malika-e-Noor-led green shirts dominated the first half and remained impressive throughout the game. Amina Hanif gave a delightful ball with the back of her heel to allow Zahmena Malik to score a goal in the 26th minute. After scoring her first international goal and providing the lead to the side, Zahmena registered her name in the Pakistan Women’s Football team goal sheet.
In the second half, both sides kept firing unstoppable efforts to score a goal, but neither could notch a single one. The second half remained goalless despite being given five additional minutes.
Although the team did not qualify for the second round of the Women’s Olympic Qualifiers, their historic victory against Tajikistan is a significant milestone for Pakistani women’s football. The team has shown promise and is sure to continue making progress in future competitions.