Afghanistan national football team
|Nickname(s)||The Lions of Khorasan (شیران خراسان)|
|Association||Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF)|
|Sub-confederation||CAFF (Central Asia)|
|Head coach||Slaven Skeledzic|
|Asst coach||Ali Askar Lali
|Most caps||Zohib Islam Amiri (43)|
|Top scorer||Balal Arezou (9)|
|Home stadium||Ghazi Stadium and Afghanistan Football Federation Stadium|
|FIFA ranking||135 (7 May 2015)|
|Highest FIFA ranking||122 (April 2014)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||204 (January 2003)|
|Elo ranking||179 (12 March 2015)|
|Highest Elo ranking||179 (11 September 2013)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||207 (17 November 2010)|
| Afghanistan 0–0 Iran
(Kabul, Afghanistan; 25 August 1941)
| Bhutan 1–8 Afghanistan
(New Delhi, India; 7 December 2011)
| Turkmenistan 11-0 Afghanistan
(Ashgabat, Turkmenistan; 19 November 2003)
The Afghanistan National Football Team (Persian: تیم ملی فوتبال افغانستان) popularly known as the "The Lions of Khorasan"  is the national football team of Afghanistan and is controlled by the Afghanistan Football Federation. Founded in 1922, and played their first international game against the Iran national football team in Kabul, 1941. Afghanistan then joined FIFA in 1948 and the AFC in 1954, as one of the founding members. They play their home games at the Ghazi National Olympic Stadium in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Their achievements have included two consecutive appearances in the final of the SAFF Championship. They came Runners-up in the 2011 edition against India, and then having redemption in beating their same opponents in the 2013 SAFF Championship Final, 2-0.
- 1 History
- 2 Kit
- 3 Home Stadium
- 4 Recent Results and Fixtures
- 5 Personnel
- 6 Current Squad
- 7 Honours
- 8 Competition Records
- 9 Coaches
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Formed in 1922 and affiliated to FIFA since 1948, the Afghanistan Football Federation was one of the founding members of Asian Football Confederation in 1954. The first football club established in the country, Mahmoudiyeh F.C., was founded in 1934. Three years later the team traveled to India and took part in 18 games of which they won 8, lost 9 and drew 1. The second football club founded was Ariana Kabul F.C. which was established in 1941. This team traveled to Tehran, Iran upon invitation, played 3 games, winning one game and losing two.
The country's first international match was played against Iran in Kabul, 25 August 1941. Afghanistan drew the game, 0-0 at Ghazi Stadium in Kabul. Afghanistan's only appearance was at the Olympic Games football tournament in the 1948 Summer Olympic Games when they played Luxembourg on 26 July 1948 and lost 6–0. Prior to 2002, Afghanistan was last seen on the international stage during 1984 AFC Asian Cup qualification, with its last match lost 6-1 against Jordan on September 20, 1984. Afghanistan played no international games from 1984 to 2002, due to the latter years of Soviet war in Afghanistan, Civil war in Afghanistan (1992–1996), and the Taliban regime.
Following the demise of the Taliban regime, the Afghan national team eventually returned to the international arena in 2002, when they played South Korea in the Asian Games, losing 2–0. Afghanistan participated in their first international tournament in the 2003 SAFF Gold Cup where they lost all three group stage matches to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Later in the same year, Afghanistan took part in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup qualification where they won against Kyrgyzstan but lost to Nepal and failed to make it to the next round. Afghanistan started its FIFA World Cup campaign for the first time in 2003 where they played Turkmenistan in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification. They lost both matches in aggregate of 13–0. This was first time Afghanistan participated in FIFA World Cup qualification though they had been affiliated since 1948. Afghanistan lost a friendly match against Tajikistan in November 2005, after which the team went to Pakistan to take part in the 2005 South Asian Football Federation Gold Cup, which they lost to the Maldives and Pakistan but won against Sri Lanka.
They also participated in the first edition of the AFC Challenge Cup in 2006, for which they drew both matches with Chinese Taipei and the Philippines with Afghan footballers Hafizullah Qadami and Sayed Maqsood Hashemi both scoring to produce a drawn result and on their second campaign of world cup in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification were eliminated by Syria. In the SAFF Championship 2008 Afghanistan lost to Bhutan but drew with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Afghanistan entered the second round of the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008, by winning in group D of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualification, drawing with Bangladesh and winning against Kyrgyzstan. In the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, Afghanistan lost all group matches to India, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Afghanistan in two International friendly match vs Nepal and Malaysia in 2008 was unable to come with a victory while they could managed to draw with Nepal while lost with a big difference to Malaysia. In 2009 SAFF Championship Afghanistan lost all its matches to Maldives, India and Nepal. Hashmatullah Barakzai scored only goal of Afghanistan against Maldives which they lost. In November 2010, Afghanistan played an friendly against Tajikistan which the teams lost 1–0.
Afghanistan competed in their third World Cup qualifying campaign playing the first leg of their first match against Palestine in Tajikistan due to security reasons, which they lost, and the second leg of the match in Palestine which they drew with Balal Arezou scoring, meaning they failed to advance to the second round and were eliminated.
In 2011 SAFF Championship Afghanistan drew their first match against India, the hosts and defending champion, with Balal Arezou scoring in the first five minutes. They then beat Sri Lanka, with two goals from Sandjar Ahmadi and one from Ata Yamrali, and then beat Bhutan 8–1, the biggest victory in the history of Afghanistan football. In this match, Balal Arezou scored the only Hat-trick of the competition with 4 goals and the team scored the quickest goal of the tournament through Ata Yamrali in the third minute. For the first time Afghanistan reached Semi Final of the tournament and faced Nepal whom they beat 1–0 in Extra time with the only goal scored by Balal Arezou in the 101st minute. It was the first win of Afghanistan over Nepal. In the final Afghanistan played India to whom they lost 4–0. After the match vs India, Kam Air Airlines awarded every player with $1,000 cash, and president Hamid Karzai appreciated their success and performance in the tournament. Afghanistan beat Bhutan 5–0 in 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Qualification. In the first leg, they won Bhutan 3–0 with Sidiq Walizada scoring all 3 goals and 2-0 in the second leg. In the second qualification round, Afghanistan lost to Nepal and North Korea, whilst beating Sri Lanka but failed to qualify for the next stage.
On 20 August 2013 before the 2013 SAFF Championship Afghanistan played Pakistan in a FIFA approved friendly for the first time in 36 years and first time in home ground after a decade which ended to a 3-0 victory over Pakistan.
Afghanistan entered the 2013 SAFF Championship as the clear favourite and the highest ranked team by FIFA in the tournament placed at 139th. Afghanistan started the campaign well with a 3-goal victory over the minnows Bhutan with goals from Amiri, Azadzoy and Barakzai. The second match again ended with a 3-1 victory over Sri Lanka with goals of Rafi, Amiri and Barakzai. Amiri scored a long range goal from the middle of the ground very beautifully touched the top of the net. Rafi's goal went inside directly from the corner spot touching the corner of the net. In the last match of group stage Afghanistan draw with the goal machine team Maldives. Semi Final of the tournament was the repeat of last Years edition with Afghanistan defeating Nepal with a solitary goal of Sandjar Ahmadi at their home that took Afghanistan in to the final of the tournament with India. Mansur Faqiryar of Afghanistan showed an outstanding goalkeeping performance by saving two back to back Penalty kick of Nepal in the last minutes of the match. Faqiryar proved to be the best goalkeaper ever Afghanistan had and this tournaments best goal keeper. In several occasion against Nepal and Maldives he came to save the Lions of Khorasan (Afghanistan national football team). The Final match of the tournament saw the 2011 SAFF Championship finalist again at Dashrath Stadium Nepal where in Afghanistan outplayed the defending champions India by 2 goals. Afghanistan showed an outstanding performance, attracting eyes of every corner of the globe. Goals from Azadzoy and Sandjar Ahmadi in each half of the game put the lions of Khorasan (Afghanistan national football team) up front, for the first SAFF Championship title in their history. Mansur Faqiryar was named the best Player of the tournament, by his outstanding goal keeping skills throughout the tournament.
In 2014, the Afghan football team participated in four friendly game matches in the first half of the year against Kyrgyzstan twice, Tajikistan and Kuwait. In the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup Afghanistan did well to reach the Semi-final, losing to the eventual champions Palestine, 2-0. They finished their campaign in fourth spot, the countries highest finishing place in the short term the cup has existed, losing to Maldives on a penalty shoot out: (7-8) after a 1-1 draw for third spot of the competition. On 10 June 2014 Afghanistan Football Federation moved from South Asian Football Federation SAFF to the CAFF. At the 2014 Ballon D'or ceremony, the Afghanistan Football Federation won the FIFA Fair Play Award. Afghanistan was honored with the award for the outstanding performance of the Afghanistan football during the year, despite chaos of war and difficult political situation the country is facing. FIFA in a statement, posted on its website said, “Following a year of remarkable achievement in grassroots level football, building infrastructure to further develop football throughout the country and nurturing a professional league despite enduring over a decade of disorder stemming from war, Afghanistan has been presented the 2013 FIFA Fair Play award.” On 9 February 2015 it was confirmed that the AFF signed a new coach for the national team. German-Bosnian trainer Slaven Skeledzic signed a 1-year contract with the AFF. The new trainer had earlier coached under 19 and 17 teams in Germany. Skeledzic, 43 years old, has had a lot of experience as a football coach. He played football for many years in Germany and coached a few youth teams in the Bundesliga.
In 2011 the Afghanistan Football Federation had signed a 4-year contract, with Danish sports brand Hummel, to provide both the Men's and the Women's National Team for clothes and shoes from 2011 till 2015. On 6 March 2015 the Afghan Football Federation signed a new 4-year contract with Hummel till 2019.
Major football matches in Afghanistan are held at the Afghan Football Federation Stadium (popularly known as the Ghazi Stadium) in Kabul. Built during the reign of King Amanullah Khan in 1923, the stadium has a capacity of around 25,000 people. The first international football match hosted there was played between Iran and Afghanistan in 1941 and was drawn 0–0. Their 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification second leg match was played at the Ghazi Stadium against Turkmenistan which Afghanistan lost 2–0, having previously lost the first leg 11–0. The stadium is maintained and controlled by Afghanistan Football Federation. The Kabul Premier League and other local football tournaments take place in the stadium.
Recent Results and Fixtures
The following are Afghanistan's results and fixtures as of: 29 May 2015
* Afghanistan goals always listed first
Win Draw Loss
Current Technical Staff
|Head Coach||Slaven Skeledzic|
|Assistant Coach||Ali Askar Lali|
|Second Assistant Coach||Mustafa Mehrzad|
|Team Doctor||Bahram Siddiqui|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Eric Siegfried Rasp|
|Fitness Coach||Pryzemyslaw Gomulka|
- Opposition: Upcoming match against Laos
- Caps and goals correct as of: 29 May 2015
Recent Call Ups
The following players have been called up for Afghanistan over the past 12 months.
- FIFA Fair Play Award: 2013
FIFA World Cup Records
|World Cup||World Cup qualifications|
|1930 to 2002||Did not enter||1930 to 2002||Did not enter|
|2006||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||2006||Round 1||2||0||0||2||0||13|
|2010||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||2010||Round 1||2||0||0||2||1||5|
|2014||Did not qualify||-||-||-||-||-||-||2014||Round 1||2||0||0||2||1||3|
|2018||To be determined||-||-||-||-||-||-||2018||Round 2||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Total:||Did not qualify||0||0||0||0||0||0||Total||Best: Round 2||6||0||0||6||2||21|