Pakistan’s national soccer team won a World Cup qualifying game for the first time, beating Cambodia 1-0 in Islamabad on Tuesday to advance to the second round in Asia.
After the first leg in Phnom Penh finished 0-0, an angled left-foot half-volley from Harun Hamid was enough to secure victory at Jinnah Sports Stadium in a first home game for Pakistan since 2015.
It was also the first win for Pakistan, ranked 197th, since 2018. It joins Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Jordan in Group G of Asian qualifying, which kicks off next month.
Pakistan was banned by FIFA in April 2021 for 15 months because of “undue third party interference” — its second ban in four years.
Pakistan will be joined in the second stage by nine other teams after two-leg, home-and-away series for the Asian Football Confederation’s 20 lowest-ranked teams.
With no domestic league since 2018, Pakistan’s English coach Stephen Constantine, appointed just 13 days before the first of the qualifying games last week, faced a difficult job.
Ahead of the games against Cambodia, Constantine had promised: “If we get the combination right, watch out.”
The Pakistan Football Federation posted a video on social media of Constantine celebrating with the team after the historic win, with the message: “The floor is all yours, Coach. We’ve made history.”
Singapore beat Guam 3-1 on aggregate after winning 1-0 on Tuesday, and Afghanistan also beat Mongolia 1-0 to advance 2-0 overall.
Yemen was held 1-1 at Sri Lanka, Asia’s lowest-ranked team at No. 202, but had done enough in its home leg to advance 4-1 on aggregate.
The other teams to advance to the 36-nation second round are Bangladesh, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Nepal, Indonesia and Myanmar.
Myanmar will open the next stage against Japan, which beat Tunisia 2-0 in a friendly at Kobe, a sixth successive victory, thanks to a goal in each half from Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi and Junya Ito.
In another friendly, South Korea routed Vietnam 6-0 at Suwon, just south of Seoul, in coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s third straight win.
Apart from Vo Minh Trong’s own-goal, all the scorers for South Korea were European-based players: Bayern Munich’s Kim Min-jae, Hwang Hee-chan of Wolverhampton, Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, Lee Kang-in of Paris Saint-Germain and Stuttgart’s Jeong Woo-yeong.
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