Passion drives top talent to international team

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Afghanistan’s Zelfy Nazary plays against Tajikistan.
Camera IconAfghanistan’s Zelfy Nazary plays against Tajikistan.

The journey of Great Southern-raised soccer talent Zelfy Nazary continues to grow with the now Brisbane-based midfielder part of Afghanistan’s bid to qualify for the 2020 World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup.

Growing up in Katanning, Nazary spent time playing as a junior in the Katanning Association Football and then in the Albany Junior Soccer Association before moving to Perth to further pursue his passion.

Nazary spent time playing soccer in Perth and then did a stint overseas, eventually finding his way to Queensland, where he plays for Western Pride.

Last year he made his international debut for Afghanistan, playing in a nil-all draw against Palestine in August.

Since then he has played minutes in two other matches for Afghanistan and recently was on the bench for his country in their 2020 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Qatar and Bangladesh.

Afghanistan’s next qualifier is against Oman on October 10 and that is followed by games against India and Qatar in November.

The World Cup qualifiers also double as second round qualifiers for the Asian Cup.

The 24-year-old said it had been a whirlwind couple of years but he was blessed to have the opportunity to play for his country.

“I made my debut last year and since then I have been a national team regular,” Nazary said.

“The most recent game I got onto the pitch was in a friendly against Tajikistan, we drew 1-1.

“I was on the bench for both qualifiers recently and was hoping to get on against Bangladesh but we had a couple of injuries before half-time.

“There is a lot of travel with the international team but I am playing here in Brisbane as well.

“I’m just really lucky to be representing my country.”

Zelfy Nazary (No.14) poses for a photo with Afghanistan teammates before their clash with Turkmenistan.
Camera IconZelfy Nazary (No.14) poses for a photo with Afghanistan teammates before their clash with Turkmenistan.

Nazary said his pure love for the game was the reason he firstly played in Albany and then moved to Perth. “Playing football is what I love, it has always been what I wanted to do,” he said.

“I enjoy it and any time you can get on to the pitch for your country I give absolutely everything.

“I play midfield or right back for Afghanistan but I am just happy to be out there playing, regardless of what position.

“I’ve been with the national team only a year, I have a want and desire to play at that level and I’ve got to keep fighting for it.

“Hopefully, I can get some starts in games but I know I have to be patient.”

Nazary said growing up with no real club in Katanning was tough but he was thankful for everyone who assisted him along the way.

“It was really tough growing up in Katanning with no club there,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was a tiny kid and thank you to the Albany Junior Soccer Association for giving me that opportunity to play. Also to the Katanning association and all the people that helped me, you are all a big part of where I am today.”

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