How Afghanistan women’s football teammade it to Australia’s Women’s World Cup
The women’s football team from Afghanistan is about to take its place at the World Cup.
The two-time runners-up of the Afghan Premier League, which means they have yet to win a league title, were part of an A-League team, coached by Australian player and former striker David Williams, when they played in the 2011 Asian Cup, but were eliminated in the group stages.
Now the team, consisting of 32 players aged between 17 and 23, are back playing in the Afghan Premier League for the first time in five years.
They face a tough challenge in the Premier League, which is sponsored by an Australian company, as a result of the rise in the number of women’s football teams around the world. Only one other team, the Brazilian women’s football team, are going into this competition.
The Premier League is the first time these women have been playing for the Afghan football team since 2010. They were not part of the 2011 Asian Cup.
At the start of Afghanistan’s journey, the players and their coach were determined to make Afghanistan the first country to qualify for the Women’s World Cup in Australia.
“It was about making a goal, and the coach was the one who asked me to make a goal. I think he wanted to be competitive, too,” said 17-year-old left winger Lila Abdeslam.
On 19 January, on the first matchday, 17-year-old midfielder Nahida Aalam, 18-year-old goalkeeper Aziza Azaiza and 23-year old defender Rula Ghazarian arrived at Melbourne airport after a 12-hour flight from Kabul.
They were joined by their coach, Williams, who was also flying in with the team to Melbourne.
“It was a nice experience for us, first of all, to travel at such a high standard, to have a coach who is a world class player and a very good man as well,” Nahida said. “It was really nice to have the chance to meet and share with him