Behram's debut goal for China marks Xinjiang football milestone


In the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Thailand on Thursday night, Behram Abduweli made a historic debut as a substitute, scoring China's equalizer in a 1-1 draw.

Hailing from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, the 21-year-old became the first player from the region to score a goal for China's men's national team.

Previously, three players from Xinjiang -- Murahmetjan Muzepper, Abduhamit Abdugheni and Dilmurat Mawlanniyaz -- had been selected for the national team's training camps.

In September 2018, Murahmetjan, then with Tianjin Teda, made history as the first Xinjiang player to play for China, making his debut in a 1-0 friendly defeat to Qatar.

Following the game, Behram shared that he received numerous congratulations from friends in the Xinjiang football community.

"Many people sent their best wishes to me. There have been very few players from Xinjiang in the national team, and they are all very happy," he said. "I made some mistakes before scoring, and I need to learn from them. I hope to score more goals in the future."

Xinjiang has long been seen as a key region for the development of Chinese football. In recent years, the area has experienced a surge in football talent. A total of 24 players from Xinjiang registered to play in the Chinese Super League (CSL) this year. The region has also made significant strides in officiating, with referee Mehmetjan Ahmet winning the CSL Silver Whistle Award in 2024, marking another step forward for Xinjiang football.

Despite making some breakthroughs, Xinjiang still has some way to go. In February, the region's first membership-based football club, Xinjiang Silk Road Eagles, was established. Competing in the fourth division, the club aims to climb the ranks and provide more opportunities for local young players.

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