KARACHI: The Street Child World Cup team reached the round of 16 of the Norway Cup, finishing at the top of Group B2 of the boys Under-16 event with seven points, despite playing a draw in their last Group B match against Finnsnes IL Fotball 1-1 in Oslo's Ekeberg field on Tuesday.
Pakistan's Rahul Talha scored his second goal in the tournament to help his team cruise into the next round.
Talha is one of the new players in the Street Child World Cup 2014 squad, which originally included nine players.
The team is playing an 11-a-side tournament now in Norway, unlike the Street Child World Cup 2014 which was a seven-a-side event.
However, Itan Maqbool, the team's manager and an official of the Azad Foundation, which has sponsored the team, said that so far, the transition for the players has been amazing and the team has been delivering results.
"We need the prayers of our people," Maqbool told The Express Tribune from Oslo. "The players are excited to take on the next team in the pre-quarterfinals. We are glad we made through the group stage.
"We are in the knock-out stages now and we'll hopefully perform well. Its Eid and everyone here is feeling it. The new players like Talha have also performed brilliantly and have proven their talent."
Pakistan had earlier defeated Norwegian clubs Lambertseter 1-0 and then thrashed Batnfjord/Reinsfjell 6-0 in their second match.
"Our players are at par with their European counter-parts and that feels good," said Maqbool.
The Norway Cup is the largest youth football tournament in the world featuring 1400 teams this year from U12 to u19 categories in girls and boys competitions.
The team wins hearts in Norway
Maqbool said that so far the local Pakistani community has given tremendous support to the team.
"Even on the third day the crowds pour into to support us here, the Pakistanis here have made us feel at home. They even brought a dhol to cheer the team," said Maqbool.
Pakistan will play their next match on Wednesday, July 30.
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