London Seaward attacker Zahmena Malik dazzles on international debut for Pakistan Women in win over Comoros | Football News

London Seaward attacker Zahmena Malik dazzles on international debut for Pakistan Women in win over Comoros | Football News


London Seaward attacking midfielder Zahmena Malik grabbed a memorable assist on her Pakistan Women debut in a historic clash against Comoros in Saudi Arabia.

The 21-year-old played the full 90 minutes against Comoros at the Prince Saud bin Jalawi Stadium in Riyadh in Pakistan’s first women’s match against African opposition.

Malik played a delightful square ball with the back of her heel to allow Anmol Hira to slot home an 89th-minute winner, as Pakistan made it back-to-back victories following a record 7-0 win against The Maldives in the final match of last year’s South Asian Football Federation Championship in Nepal.

Malik was named in Pakistan’s squad – alongside Doncaster Rovers Belles attacker Nadia Khan and Chesham United’s Amina Hanif – for this month’s four-team women’s international friendly tournament in Saudi Arabia, featuring the host nation, Comoros and Mauritius.

The British-Pakistani combines playing for Women’s National League Division One South East side London Seaward with coaching for Bloomsbury Football, and celebrated her 21st birthday while training with the national team in Lahore last month.

Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News last month, former Harlow Town Ladies manager Ruudy Yusuf said: “Zahmena doesn’t realise how good she is and is going from strength to strength.

“She’s playing at a good standard with a really good club under some great coaches with strong values. Zahmena is a player who anything is possible for if she can continue the trajectory.”

Banaras makes Blues history

Birmingham City’s Layla Banaras, 16, became the first South Asian heritage woman to represent Blues in the professional era after featuring in Sunday’s Women’s FA Cup tie against Huddersfield.

Banaras, whose mother is English and whose father is Pakistani, came on as a substitute for Blues in their 4-0 victory at St Andrew’s at the weekend.

“I said before she went on that she has earnt the chance,” Birmingham City Women manager Darren Carter said.

“Ever since she stepped up and trained with us day-in and day-out, you’ve seen that she has got stronger and more confident, and she deserved that.

“But in Layla’s case she’s been fantastic. Her attitude has been brilliant and she totally deserved to get on the pitch.”

Tough-tackling Banaras, who has been with Birmingham since the age of eight, is a former Oasis Academy Hobmoor pupil – and started out playing football at Solihull Moors FC.

Banaras, who can play across defence and midfield, captained Birmingham’s U16 academy team last season before stepping up to represent the club’s development side on a number of occasions.

The versatile wing-back played the full 90 minutes as the youngest player on the pitch – aged just 16 years and 25 days – in last season’s FA WSL U21 Academy Cup final against Manchester United at St George’s Park, increasing the clamour for her to earn an England youth call-up.

Image:
Brandon Khela and Layla Banaras were part of Birmingham City’s kit launch

Banaras was cheered on by friends and family and team-mates past and present when she participated in the Queen’s Baton Relay earlier this year prior to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The 16-year-old also featured in Birmingham City’s kit launch ahead of the season, appearing alongside men’s first-team academy graduate Brandon Khela as Blues embraced their rich cultural diversity to promote their new strip.

How Sky is trying to make change

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Sky Sports last year announced partnership with Sporting Equals to support the charity’s ambition of inspiring more opportunities for British South Asians in football

The glaring lack of ethnic diversity at the elite end of the women’s game was brought sharply into focus during last summer’s Women’s Euros, with England fielding an all-white starting XI in all six of their matches at the tournament.

Sky Sports recognised and began taking steps to address the lack of diversity in the women’s game back in 2020 as part of its £30m commitment to tackle systemic racism and make a difference in communities across the UK.

Sky Sports has worked with dozens of current and former players from diverse ethnic backgrounds, and has tried to give them a platform to share their stories to try and capture the imagination to inspire the next generation of female footballers.

Talent has been identified and signposted directly to the Football Association and clubs as part of Sky Sports’ unprecedented commitment to British South Asians in Football, which has also seen us devote a section of our website to raising awareness about South Asians in The Game, and create a dedicated rolling blog.

A number of elite and elite-potential female players and their families have also been supported with mentoring and access to off-field developmental opportunities.

Last year, Sky Sports also partnered with the country’s largest sports race equality charity, Sporting Equals, which has seen us support participation across the country, including devising the ‘Seeing Is Believing’ event for century-old west London sports club Indian Gymkhana.

British South Asians in Football

For more stories, features and videos, visit our groundbreaking South Asians in Football page on skysports.com and South Asians in the Game blog and stay tuned to Sky Sports News and our Sky Sports digital platforms.

Full Story: https://www.skysports.com/football/news/12040/12783831/london-seaward-attacker-zahmena-malik-dazzles-on-international-debut-for-pakistan-women-in-win-over-comoros
TAGS: #London #Seaward #attacker #Zahmena #Malik #dazzles #international #debut #Pakistan #Women #win #Comoros #Football #News

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