Pakistan to face arch-rivals India in the SAFF Women’s Football Championship

  • Maria Khan, based in the United Arab Emirates, will lead the Pakistan team.
  • “Inshallah, we will make them proud,” Maria says confidently.
  • Maria says that she hopes to represent Pakistan to the best of her ability.

KARACHI: September 7 will be a historic day for the Pakistan women’s football team as Pakistan take on India to kick off their campaign in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Women’s Championship after a wait of eight years.

Maria Khan, based in the United Arab Emirates, will lead the Pakistan team that will enter the field for her international debut with the captain’s armband.

In an exclusive interview with Geographic NewsMaria spoke about her trip, her experience of being in the Pakistan camp and her plans for the team.

UAE resident soccer player Maria Khan.  — Provided by reporter
UAE resident soccer player Maria Khan. — Provided by reporter

The 31-year-old goalkeeper-turned-midfielder said the Pakistan team “isn’t in Nepal just to show off” and the players are keen to compete well.

“We are hungry, we are looking to get in and compete, we are not here just to show up. The girls are very excited. Really excited for the opportunity to finally return to the international stage after eight years. There is good energy throughout the camp,” she said. geo.tv from Kathmandu after the team’s first training session there.

“One of the key strengths within the team is that we have a young team and that means our girls can recover much quicker as well as adapt and learn information and absorb information very quickly,” the captain said.

“Inshallah, we will make you proud,” Maria said confidently.

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Maria is one of two foreign players selected by the Pakistan Football Federation for the SAFF Cup. Maria has been part of the Pakistan football circuit since 2018 and has not only attended national camps, but she has also participated in the national women’s football championship.

Speaking about her journey, Maria said that she started playing soccer 25 years ago at the age of six.

“My experience began in the United States, where I started playing at the age of six. I went from field player to goalie and then kept playing goalie my entire time in the US I played first division soccer at the University of Denver,” he said.

“Once I finished college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. At the time, the women’s professional league in the US was very volatile, there was a season when it was active and a season when it wasn’t. So pursuing a professional soccer career in 2013, even in the US, was not a realistic option. So, I decided to continue my education and ended up in the United Arab Emirates and played football professionally,” recalled Maria.

Speaking about her debut match, the soccer player said that it is an honor to lead and represent the country and that she will do the best she can.

“Inshallah, on September 7 I will have the opportunity to win my first international match. It is an absolute honor to be in the position I am in. It has been a great journey for me, I have waited more than 20 years for this opportunity; there are a lot of emotions going on. I have been given the opportunity to help lead this team and my role within that is only a small role compared to the role that every girl on this team plays,” she said.

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The US-born soccer player added that the preparatory camp before the SAFF Cup was an “absolutely amazing” experience and helped her develop not only as a player on the field but also as a person and human being off the field.

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