Why Ipswich's Afghan hat-trick hero so grateful
AN Afghan international celebrated his incredible hat-trick with Western Pride - and his emotional family - after one of the most inspired football performances seen in Ipswich.
Recent Pride recruit Zelfy Nazary had a special reason for hugging his father John after helping breathe new life into his Ipswich team's National Premier League season.
"My dad, it was only second time he came to my game,'' Zelfy said after Pride's commanding 6-0 victory over Sunshine Coast.
"The first time he came in the Cup finals in Perth and unfortunately I missed a winning penalty so that was a disappointment.
"So I was hoping I could make it up to him.''
The fleet-footed Pride striker achieved that with distinction at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex on Saturday night.
A delighted dad and some of Zelfy's other family got to experience his memorable performance.
After watching his hat-trick, they were invited to join the elated Western Pride players, coaches, officials and loyal fans for the team's victory song in the dressing shed.
"All my family live in Perth so they just came here for the game then they are going back on Monday so it was a good thing,'' Zelfy said.
With Pride needing victory to remain in the 2020 NPL competition, Nazary's three crucial goals included a sensational strike that put his new team up 3-0 just before halftime.
As Pride completed their desperate mission over Sunshine Coast, Nazary was thought to have bagged four goals at Pride's playing headquarters.
However, post-game he generously explained how one of those goals belonged to teammate Mustafa Jafari.
"Mustafa got a flick on it,'' Nazary said.
In only his third state league game for Pride, Nazary was the standout performer. It was the first time he had scored a hat-trick playing in Australia.
"It was good. It was really nice to get a win after last week's disappointment (losing 4-0 to Redlands United),'' he said.
"We'll stick together for next week and hopefully go on a winning run and finish off the season.''
Nazary, 23, had already played three matches for the Afghanistan team, which is preparing for future World Cup and Asian qualification matches.
However, after his invaluable contribution in Ipswich, Nazary praised his Pride teammates.
"It was a good performance . . . defensively from the keeper (Griffin Bambach) all the way to the top,'' he said.
"Michael (Morrow), Alex (Parsons), Musi (Mustafa) and all the boys at the top and in the midfield, it was just fairly good and solid. We didn't give them (Sunshine Coast) anything.''
The spirited striker was also eager to acknowledge the Pride supporters, especially the loyal crew in The Pit.
"I'm very thankful for the fans who came down for the home games and away,'' Nazary said.
"It's always nice to come down here to make the noise (with their horns and cheering). We love them.
"We want them to keep coming and hopefully we can keep on winning games.''
Nazary said his upbringing in Afghanistan "wasn't easy'' before relocating to Australia as a child 14 years ago.
"Since we move to Australia, my family has really helped to achieve my goals and follow my dreams in football,'' he said.
"My dad and my family have from day one been supporting me so I'm extremely thankful to them . . . and all the friends and family who take me around . . . and help me a lot.''
His football has flourished in Perth and South East Queensland, where he played for Olympic before Pride head coach Terry Kirkham recently secured his talents through a transfer window.
"I was at Olympic and things didn't go well for me,'' Nazary said. "Then Terry contacted me to see if I want to come play here so I thought about it and then I said 'yeah'. Maybe I needed a change.''
Nazary said he was enjoying the Western Pride culture.
"I'm just settling in really well with the boys,'' he said.
"Everything is going nicely so far. The boys are making me feel comfortable.''
As a utility midfielder, Nazary has enjoyed his striking role with Pride.
"Me, Alex, Michael, Musi . . . we are all switching around so it doesn't matter where we play as long as we combine well in the final third and get a goal,'' he said.
"It doesn't matter who scores. It's all about winning and getting the three points.''
Yet to score a goal for the Afghanistan national team, Nazary clearly enjoyed his latest effort for Western Pride.
Whatever happens in the future, Ipswich will provide a magic football milestone to cherish.
State of play
NPL: Western Pride 6 (Zelfy Nazary 3, Michael Morrow, Alex Parsons, Mustafa Jafari) def Sunshine Coast 0.
U20: Western Pride 3 (Ayman Adam 2, Chris Anderson) def Sunshine Coast 1.
U18: Western Pride 3 (Shakeel Dean 2, Patient Lukonga) def Sunshine Coast 1.