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Pakistan Beat Cambodia In First-Ever Football World Cup Qualifying Win

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After defeating Cambodia 1-0 in Islamabad, Pakistan’s men’s football team created history by moving on to the second round of World Cup qualifiers.

Wild celebrations broke out on the pitch and in the spectators at Jinnah Sports Stadium in the Pakistani capital on Tuesday as it was the first time the national team had won a qualification match.

Harun Hamid’s half-volley in the 67th minute was enough to give Pakistan its first victory at home since 2015 after the first leg in Phnom Penh ended at 0-0.

The second round, which starts in November, pits them against Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Jordan.

FIFA banned the South Asian country in April 2021 for 15 months owing to “undue third party interference” — their second ban in four years.

 The country, which is ranked 197 in the world, had not won an international match since 2018.

The team’s 13-game losing drought was brought to a stop last week when Englishman Stephen Constantine was appointed as the team’s new coach.

Pakistan played eight games between November 2022 and June 2023, including five friendlies, without playing an international match since June 2019, losing all of them while only scoring one goal and giving up 18 goals.

Constantine, who is currently in charge of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) under the direction of the Normalisation Committee (NC) established by FIFA, previously served as India’s head coach. In addition to guiding India to the 2019 Asian Cup qualification, he took them from a rank of 173rd in 2015 to 97th in December 2018.

After the two-leg, home-and-away series for the 20 bottom-ranked teams in the Asian Football Confederation, Pakistan will be joined in the second round by nine other nations.

After winning 1-0 on Tuesday, Singapore defeated Guam 3-1 overall, and Afghanistan defeated Mongolia 1-0 to progress 2-0 overall.

Yemen played Sri Lanka, the 202nd-ranked team in Asia, to a 1-1 draw, but they had performed well enough at home to advance 4-1 overall.

The last time Pakistan faced Bangladesh was in a World Cup qualifying match at home in 2011, while their most recent international encounter on home turf was against Afghanistan in the northern city of Lahore in 2015.

The improbable win came eight years after international football had last played in the South Asian nation, which was mostly obsessed with cricket.

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